With the offseason in full swing, nearly 15 SF Giants minor leaguers were delcared free agents recently. The most notable names from the bunch are Zack Littell, Austin Dean, and Taylor Jones. All three players were outrighted off of the 40-man roster last week and became free agents as a result of minor league service time.
Nearly 15 SF Giants minor leaguers elect free agency
Littell was fantastic in 2021 as he posted a 2.92 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, and a 2.63 SO/W ratio in 63 appearances for the Giants. However, he was unable to sustain that performance this year as he posted a 5.08 ERA in 39 appearances.
The veteran reliever had a verbal tiff with Giants manager Gabe Kapler when he was being removed from a game in September. He was optioned to Triple-A the following day, which effectively ended his Giants career. Littell was projected to earn $900,000 in his first trip through arbitration, but the Giants will look for a better fit elsewhere.
Dean had a cameo appearance with the Giants in September. He recorded three hits in eight at-bats in a series against the Chicago Cubs before being optioned. Jones was a late-season waiver claim and posted a .796 OPS in 29 plate appearances for the Sacramento River Cats.
There are a couple of popular Giants prospects who hit the open market including catching prospect Ricardo Genoves and outfield prospect Diego Rincones. The former slashed .215/.300/.363 with 10 home runs, 38 RBI, and 28 runs in 350 plate appearances split across two minor league levels in 2022.
Genoves was often regarded as a potential major league catcher but the bat never fully developed in the upper minors. At one point, it felt like Rincones was going to be on the 40-man roster at some point.
It never came to fruition and the lock out from last winter could have been a factor. He posted a .258/.306/.383 line with 10 home runs, 47 RBI, and 34 runs in 383 plate appearances in Double-A. The right-handed bat generated a ,284 batting average with a 13.2 percent strikeout rate in six minor league seasons, so he generally demonstrated good bat-to-ball skills.
Jacob Heyward is another longtime prospect who became a free agent recently. The outfield prospect recorded a .230/.349/.387 line since being drafted in the 18th round of the 2016 draft. Of course, Heyward's older brother, Jason, has carved out a nice major league career. The younger brother registered a 13.6 percent walk rate as a pro, so he added some value with good plate discipline and a high walk rate.
Most of the rest of the group joined the Giants organization within the past year including catcher Patrick Mazeika. They all impacted the Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, so the Giants will need to restock organizational depth at the upper levels.