SF Giants release 3 minor leaguers, including once-promising prospect

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The SF Giants announced a wave of prospect promotions on Thursday. Unfortunately, this creates a bit of a domino effect as they also released three minor leaguers, including Rob Emery, Phoenix Saunders, and Colton Welker according to the team's transaction log.

SF Giants release 3 minor leaguers, including once-promising prospect

All three are tough losses. However, the Emery transaction is especially tough given that he is a local product as he attended the University of San Francisco before signing a minor-league deal with the Giants following the 2020 draft.

Plus, he was well-regarded by his peers and the organization. The catching prospect had reached every minor league level as a pro. Though, he struggled quite a bit at the higher levels as he registered a .186/.272/.214 line with no home runs, three RBI, and four runs in 83 Double-A plate appearances in 2023.

On the other hand, Saunders came over to the Giants in May on a minor-league deal. The right-handed hurler had some pretty solid numbers in the minors, including a 3.65 ERA, 10.7 K/9, and a 4.12 SO/W ratio across six seasons. Plus, he received a cup of coffee with the Tampa Bay Rays last season where he allowed just five earned runs in 14.2 frames.

However, the 28-year-old could not replicate that type of success in the Giants organization. He allowed 14 earned runs with 12 strikeouts against seven walks in 14.1 innings with the Sacramento River Cats. Unfortunately, his time with the organization comes to an end after a brief stint.

Lastly, Welker was one of the Giants minor leaguers who I was hoping would make some noise in spring training. The Giants claimed him off of waivers last season from the Colorado Rockies. He underwent shoulder surgery last June, but the Giants claimed him in July.

They knew that Welker would not be ready until the following season, so they went with a draft-and-stash type of move. The right-handed bat was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

He was considered a promising prospect, ranking as high as the No. 95 prospect prior to the 2019 season according to MLB.Com. Injuries and the canceled 2020 season have derailed his career to some extent.

The 25-year-old posted a .237/. 388/.274 line with no home runs, 13 RBI, and 14 runs in 170 plate appearances with the River Cats. This included an excellent 17.6 percent walk rate against a 21.2 percent strikeout rate, but he was not hitting for any power as evidenced by his .037 ISO.

He is limited defensively as he only plays third base and first base, meaning that he is blocked on the depth chart by players such as J.D. Davis, Wilmer Flores, Casey Schmitt, David Villar, and others. Given that he is on the younger side, Welker should be able to land with another organization in relatively short order.