The San Francisco Giants made their second round of mass roster cuts on Wednesday, reassigning pitchers Mason Tobin, Jason Berken and Mitch Lively, third baseman Chris Dominguez, and catcher Andrew Susac to minor league camp while optioning pitchers Mike Kickham and Jose De Paula, third baseman Adam Duvall and outfielder Gary Brown to Triple-A Fresno and pitchers Kendry Flores and Hunter Strickland to Class A San Jose.
I’d written earlier on Wednesday that it made a lot of sense for the Giants to send Lively, Tobin, Kickham, and Flores to minor league camp, as none of them was getting a consistent enough workload to merit staying with the big-league club. That’s not to say that they don’t have talent; it’s just that the Giants need to get consistent innings for their premier relievers, and these pitchers were being put at a disadvantage by only getting to pitch every four or five days.
Duvall and Strickland were both dealing with injuries—Strickland’s more serious, as he is recovering from Tommy John surgery—and neither of them were going to make the club, so the moves to reassign them were more procedural than anything.
If there was a surprise among the pitching cuts, it was probably the option of De Paula. While he came into camp with virtually no chance to make the club, he wowed during spring training with his high velocity and ability to get strikeouts, doing it while throwing four scoreless innings in Cactus League games. While he still has more time to develop, it seemed possible that De Paula would stick around until the tail end of camp and possibly push for a spot.
Brown and Dominguez weren’t going to make the team and were basically being limited to roles as late inning defensive replacements, so Susac was the most surprising cut among the position players. While he’s not quite big-league ready at the moment, Susac seemed primed to push for the third spot on the Giants’ catching depth chart. While his early reassignment may just be to get him consistent at-bats during minor league games, it’s worth wondering whether the Giants feel like veteran Guillermo Quiroz is still the most reliable option should they need to call up another catcher during the season.
Several players who have lasted surprisingly long are pitchers Brett Bochy, Derek Law, and Erik Cordier and infielder Mark Minicozzi. Bochy, the son of manager Bruce Bochy, has definitely earned the chance to compete for a spot with his performance in the minor leagues over the past few years. With him having pitched in just three Cactus League games, though, it was a bit surprising that the Giants chose to keep him up.
Law, who was supposed to challenge for a big-league job despite having never pitched above Class A, has only thrown in two official Catcus League games this spring. While he’s been effective, he’s been underutilized so far, and by keeping him around, the Giants have sent the message that they at least want to get a greater idea of what he has to offer before they send him out.
Cordier created some controversy over the winter when he signed a major league deal with the Giants despite being having been in professional baseball since 2004 and never having been called up to the majors. His 100-plus MPH velocity has been impressive this spring, though, and it’s worth wondering if he might be a darkhorse to gain a bullpen spot.
Minicozzi, a 31-year-old minor-league veteran, got off to a great start early in camp and received media attention because of the inspiring story of his journey just to get back into affiliated baseball. He’s 1 for his last 12 now, though, and it seemed possible that the Giants would send him back to minor league camp. While it’s feasible that the Giants want to give the veteran as much time as possible around the big-league club because of his extended service in pro baseball, it’s more likely that they legitimately see him as someone who could contribute to the major league club should anyone go down during the season.
There will probably be just one more small cutdown before the Giants head to San Francisco for the preseason Bay Bridge Series against the Oakland Athletics. It should be exciting to see how long some of the underdogs in the roster battle continue to stick around.