The SF Giants had high hopes for pitching prospect Rohan Handa when they selected him in the fifth round of the 2021 draft out of Yale University. Those hopes may not come to fruition anytime soon. The left-handed pitcher told Around the Foghorn that he plans to take a break from his playing career to recover and regroup.
SF Giants 2021 5th-round pick to take a break from playing career
It was a bit odd when his player page showed that he retired in December, especially considering that he has not yet thrown a pitch as a pro. However, retired appears to be too strong of a word but a break is needed.
Handa appeared in parts of two seasons with Yale University and played in two different summer leagues. During his collegiate career, he posted a 5.97 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, and a 2.11 SO/W ratio in 20 appearances. This includes a 1.80 ERA in four appearances during the 2020 season before the remainder of the year was canceled.
Handa was not necessarily high on the draft radar coming out of school. He had the profile of a pitch-to-contact type of arm with a fastball that sat comfortably in the mid-80's and was unable to get a lot of swinging strikes. Though, he did deploy a plus slider with a developing splitter but the limited fastball velocity was not yielding the results he expected.
However, the lefty pitcher underwent an incredible transformation that led to better overall results and catapulted him up the draft board. He explains the change in this video here.
To summarize, Handa went through a performance program called Tread Athletics. Perhaps, Driveline is one of the more well-known performance programs in baseball, but Handa lauded Tread for its individualized workout process.
Quickly, the 23-year-old pitcher went from flashing a fastball that sat in the mid-80's to reaching 97.7 MPH on the radar gun. Unfortunately, Yale's 2021 season was canceled as well, so he did not have a place to showcase his improved velocity. He eventually caught on with the New England Collegiate Baseball League where he yielded one earned run with 25 strikeouts against eight walks in 17 innings while working out of the rotation.
This performance caught the attention from a lot of teams, including the Giants. San Francisco believed that they were getting a hidden gem when they selected Handa in the fifth round of the 2021 draft.
Unfortunately, that has not yet been realized as Handa underwent shoulder surgery in September of 2022. He spent the entire 2023 campaign on the injured list before deciding to step away from the mound. The Yale graduate left the door open for a return down the road, but for now, he is focusing on recovering with the hopes that he may be able to return to baseball someday.