The deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5 draft passed on Friday and the SF Giants, in very typical fashion, waited until the last minute to announce their roster moves. They added a trio of prospects to the 40-man roster including outfielder Heliot Ramos, starting pitcher Sean Hjelle, and reliever Randy Rodriguez.
SF Giants add trio of intriguing prospects to the 40-man roster
To make room for these three prospects, the Giants designated Jay Jackson for assignment and returned Dedniel Núñez to the New York Mets. In a mild surprise, the Giants exercised Jackson's option for the 2022 season earlier this month.
The surprise was not in the fact that they exercised the option but that he had an option to begin with. That detail was not known when he originally signed a minor league pact with the club last offseason.
Núñez was selected by the Giants in the Rule 5 draft last year. At the time, the bullpen situation was a lot less stable, so the front office tried to see if they could find value through the Rule 5 draft. However, the hard-throwing righty sustained an elbow injury during spring training that required Tommy John surgery, thereby ending his season.
The Giants kept him in the organization by placing him on the 60-day injured list but he will not be placed on waivers like Jackson. As a Rule 5 pick, he will return to the Mets.
On the other hand, the Giants added a trio of intriguing prospects in Ramos, Hjelle, and Rodriguez. Giants fans know about Ramos and Hjelle, in particular, as they were both high drafts picks. The Giants selected Ramos in the first round of the 2017 draft, whereas Hjelle was picked in the second round of the 2018 draft.
They both began the season in Double-A but finished the season in Triple-A with the Sacramento River Cats. Ramos posted a .254/.323/.416 line with 14 home runs, 56 RBI, and 66 runs scored in 495 plate appearances across two minor league affiliates. He did struggle to the tune of a .756 OPS in Triple-A but it bears mentioning that he was one of the youngest players in Triple-A West.
Similar to Ramos, Hjelle worked his way from Double-A to Triple-A. Across two levels, the 6-foot-11 righty registered a 5.82 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, and a 2.17 SO/W ratio. He is a pitchability-over-stuff type of arm who has a repertoire that includes a fastball, chageup, and curveball. Each of his pitches play up due to his excellent command.
He is truly a unique pitcher given his 6-foot-11 frame, so it is difficult to project how uncomfortable hitters will be against his unusually high release point.
Unlike Ramos and Hjelle, fans may not be as aware of Randy Rodriguez. He was signed as an international free agent during the J2 signing period in 2017. The 22-year-old has not advanced far through the minor league ranks, reaching as high as Low-A in 2021.
However, he has posted impressive strikeout numbers throughout his pro career. With the San Jose Giants, the hard-throwing righty recorded a 1.74 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 14.7 K/9, and a strong 4.39 SO/W ratio in 62 frames.
The Giants clearly felt like a team would try to pluck Rodriguez away if left unprotected, so that is why he was added to the 40-man roster. He possesses an electric fastball that gets plenty of swinging strikes and this is the type of skill set that teams often target in the Rule 5 draft.
The Giants have added some new blood to the 40-man roster including a pair of top prospects in Ramos and Hjelle. By being on the 40-man roster, these three prospects are one step closer to playing in front of an Oracle Park crowd next season.