SF Giants make roster cut after optioning bullpen prospect

San Francisco Giants Photo Day
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The roster cuts continued on Sunday for the SF Giants as they made a roster move for the third time in as many days. This round of cuts only consisted of 22-year-old prospect Jose Cruz, who was optioned to the minors according to the team's transaction log.

SF Giants make roster cut after optioning bullpen prospect

Cruz, who is not related to 12-year veteran and former Giants outfielder José Cruz Jr., was sent to minor league camp where he will get more playing time as he prepares for the season. The bullpen prospect is on the 40-man roster, so a roster move was required to send him down.

He joins Randy Rodriguez, Heliot Ramos, and Marco Luciano as players on the 40-man roster who have been optioned. This brings the total number of players on the 40-man roster in camp to 36.

Though, it bears mentioning that veteran pitcher Luke Jackson, who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, will likely begin the year on the 60-day injured list. When this happens, he will be moved off of the 40-man roster as he continues to recover. This brings the actual number of players on the 40-man roster closer to 35.

In a bit of a surprise, the Giants added Cruz to the 40-man roster along with a handful of other prospects this past winter. Evidently, San Francisco was worried about losing him in the Rule 5 draft if he was left unprotected.

The right-handed reliever is one of the more inexperienced arms in any team's 40-man roster. He has tallied just 154 innings as a pro and only 52.1 innings outside of the Arizona Complex League. Cruz put together a strong season for the San Jose Giants in 2022, registering a 2.06 ERA, 0.841 WHIP, 14.8 K/9, and a 3.74 SO/W ratio in 38 appearances.

Of course, this was against Low-A hitters. That said, Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs believes that the reliever can be ready sooner rather than later despite the inexperience:

""Low-A reliever Jose Cruz has an upshot mid-90s fastball and what might develop into a nightmare changeup, if it isn’t already. He has late-inning potential, and if the Giants consider him a reliever only, then there’s no reason to slow-play his promotion pace.""

Eric Longenhagen

Given that Cruz is on the 40-man roster, the Giants will need to be more aggressive with his development. The front office likes to leverage every player on the roster, so it would not be surprising to see him debut for the Giants this season.

He could even skip multiple levels as a result of this. The Giants followed a similar approach with Kervin Castro, who skipped High-A and Double-A once he was placed on the roster in 2021. Cruz could see that type of movement in 2023.

For now, he will gear up for the minor league season after yielding seven earned runs across 2.2 frames in the Cactus League. The young prospect did not have a legitimate shot at making the club out of camp, so this move was expected.