SF Giants ink 8 to MiLB contracts, including familiar prospect

Alyssa Nakken, Ricardo Genoves
Alyssa Nakken, Ricardo Genoves / Ralph Freso/GettyImages

Major League Baseball's free agency is starting to slow down from its frenzy in and around the time of the Winter Meetings in early December. Many players signed contracts of a decade or more that will take them into their 40s, including the SF Giants inking star shortstop Carlos Correa to a 13-year, $350 million deal.

Also on-going around professional baseball, however, are preparations to fill out minor-league rosters and have good depth available in case of an injury or trade at the top level. In that vein, the Giants recently signed a total of eight players to MiLB contracts - two with Major-League experience, some career farmhands (including a former Giants intriguing catching prospect re-upping) and a pair of international amateur signees.

Both players with time at the top level of the sport are pitchers. Of the two, the most-experienced is right hander Ljay Newsome. Now 26, he was taken in the 2015 draft out of high school in Maryland by the Seattle Mariners in the 26th round. Primarily a starter in his rise through the minors, Newsome became a swingman in the Majors with the Mariners in 2020 and 2021 as he made five starts among 12 appearances. He needed Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2021 and was waived by Seattle after the season. The St. Louis Cardinals claimed Newsome and kept him in the minors as he recovered.

Along with Newsome, Nick Duron has pitched in the Majors - once. Another late draftee (31st round in 2015 by Boston), Duron was released by the Red Sox at the end of Spring Training in 2019. He pitched briefly in independent ball before signing with Seattle and making it to Triple-A in 2021. In 2022, the Salinas native pitched mainly with the Philadelphia Phillies' top farm team but made his MLB debut - and, so far, his only MLB appearance - on July 13.

Catcher Genoves remains in SF Giants system

The familiar name among the professionals who haven't made it to the top is catcher Ricardo Genoves. A 2015 international free agent out of Venezuela, Genoves held his own at the plate in stateside leagues from 2017-2019. He broke out with Low-A San Jose at the start of 2021 (.338/.441/.551 in 38 games) but struggled after promotions that year and in 2022, when he finished at Triple-A Sacramento. Genoves was among a group of minor leaguers who declared free agency after the 2022 World Series, but his re-signing and the uncertainty behind Joey Bart in San Francisco gives the organization a good depth piece who can possibly be a full-time big leaguer as a backup.

Even though they missed on Aaron Judge, the Giants did get a slugger from the New York Yankees system: third baseman Armando Alvarez, who launched 18 home runs in just 91 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Alvarez, who passed his previous career-high in slugging by nearly 100 points, could be in play for third base if David Villar and others stumble next year.

Another infielder signed is first baseman Brady Whalen. Drafted in 2016 out of high school by the Cardinals, Whalen made it as high as Double-A in their system before becoming a free agent after 2022. A 6'4, 180-lb switch-hitter, Whalen has begun to make more contact and tap into his natural power in the last few years; his 2022 slash line of .291/.370/.459 across three levels raised his career marks to .246/.339/.392.

San Francisco also brought left-handed reliever Raymond Burgos into the system. A native of Puerto Rico, Burgos was drafted by Cleveland in 2016, didn't make his pro debut until 2018 and pitched just 27 times with 21 starts in the low-minors from 2018 through 2021. However, at High-A in 2022 he came out of the bullpen 37 times and compiled a 2.08 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched.

Finally, the organization signed right-handers Haniel de Frias and Juan Guilarte from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, respectively. Both are 18 years old.