In preparation for next month’s Rule 5 Draft, the San Francisco Giants added four prospects to the 40-man roster to protect them from being selected, and designating for assignment three players off of the roster to make room.

The players added were outfielder Alexander Canario, one of the team’s top prospects, and pitchers Camilo Doval, Gregory Santos, and Kervin Castro.  The players DFA’d were catcher Aramis Garcia, outfielder/first baseman Chris Shaw, and pitcher Jordan Humphreys.

The moves have filled the Giants 40-man roster, meaning that if they want to make any moves this offseason, whether it be adding players via the Rule 5 Draft or by free agency, they will need to remove other players as well.

The Rule 5 Draft, held every December at the winter meetings, allows teams to select prospects from other teams who are not on the 40-man roster.  Eligible prospects are players who have spent four seasons (if drafted or signed over the age of 18) or five seasons (if drafted or signed under the age of 18) in the prospect development system.  Not all teams must make a pick.  When a team selects a player, that player must stay on their new team’s active (25-man/26-man) roster all season, with provisions made for injury.  If a player is removed from the active roster, they must be offered back to their original team.

There are other provisions.  Drafting a prospect costs a team $100,000.  If they offer him back to their original team, they receive $50,000 back.  There are also minor league portions to the draft, which have different protections and restrictions.

The system is in place to prevent organizations from hoarding good prospects and holding them back.  It also encourages teams to move players up to the 40-man roster, which results in better salary and protections for those players.  Putting a player on the 40-Man roster also begins his options clock, which means teams have three more seasons they can freely move a player to the minors without risking him on waivers.  Often, the young players who do have established themselves as regular players in this timeframe are the ones designated for assignment this time of year.

Alexander Canario, 20, is the top prospect in this year’s list of protections, ranked number 7 by MLB Pipeline and number 5 by Baseball America.  Canario turned heads in 2019, starting his season in the Arizona League for the second straight season, and in ten games, he hit .395 with a .435 on-base percentage with seven home runs, and nine strikeouts with two walks in 46 plate appearances.  He was promoted to Short-A in Salem-Keizer, and at 19, hit .301/.365/.539 with 17 doubles, one triple, and nine home runs.  He also had 71 strikeouts and 18 walks in 49 games (219 PA).  He is praised for his bat speed and power, but he also suffers from extreme swing-and-miss issues.  Short-A is the highest level he’s been at.

The decision on adding Canario was made complicated because he dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder in November in the instructional league, and tore is labrum.  He has already had surgery to repair it.  Labrums are tricky to recover, they can take up to nine months for a full recovery, but fellow Giant Steven Duggar tore his non-throwing labrum in August 2018 and was back in time for the start of the season, although he had a poor season that may have been affected by the injury.  A team protecting Canario could have placed him on the IL through 2021, and then have to keep him for all of 2022, but that would also cost Canario two years of trying to develop at a suitable level, which with his strikeout issues, is needed.  However, the Giants seem to have decided might take that risk for such a high ceiling prospect.

Camilo Doval, 23, is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever.  He is ranked the #25 prospect by MLB Pipeline but was not ranked in the Top 30 by Baseball America.  Doval throws in the high 90’s with his fastball, and can reach triple digits, and pairs it with an effective slider against right-handed batters.  In his last season played in 2019 at age 21, he had a 3.83 ERA over 45 appearances, none as the team’s closer.  He struck out 80 and walked 34 in 56.1 innings, but held batters to just a .200 batting average against.  In 2019, Doval dominated right-handed batters with a .149/.277/.170 batting line against, but against left-handed batters, he allowed a .313/.423/.453 batting line.  That split will not bode well if Major League Baseball’s 3-batter rule for pitching changes stays in place.  He also, as with many hard throwers, struggles with command.  The Giants invited Doval to the Alternate Training Site in 2020, and farm director Kyle Haines called it a “much-need experience for him,” referring to him getting to experience facing older, more developed players.  High-A is the highest level Doval has reached.

Gregory Santos, 21, is a right-handed pitcher that is, for now, a starter.  He is ranked number 17 by MLB Pipeline and number 21 by Baseball America in the Giants system.  Santos missed much of the 2019 season with shoulder and lat injuries, after missing time in 2018 after being hit by a line drive.  In his time on the mound, he had a 2.86 ERA in eight starts with 26 strikeouts and nine walks in 34.2 innings.  Santos pitches in the mid-90s with a heavy fastball, and has a plus slider.  The biggest struggle for Santos has been staying healthy, as the 49.2 innings he threw in 12 starts at Salem-Keizer in 2018 are the most innings he’s thrown in a season.  The Giants acquired him via trade in 2017 when they traded Eduardo Nunez to the Boston Red Sox, and got Santos along with Shaun Anderson.  His highest level reached has been Low-A.

Kervin Castro, 21, is also a right-handed starter.  Castro’s selection surprised some, as he is not nearly as heralded as the others, and is not ranked by either major publication in their top 30 Giants prospects.  In 2019, Castro was at Salem-Keizer, where he had a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts, striking out 61 in 67.2 innings, with just 13 walks.  Castro has worked off of a low-90s sinking fastball, generating a good 1.34 groundout to flyout ratio.  He had Tommy John surgery in 2017, slowing his development.  While a player whose top level reached only being short-season ball would be an unheard of Rule 5 pick most years, the loss of 2020 in player development, when Castro likely would have been in one of the full-season Single-A leagues, would have been more normal.

Aramis Garcia, 27, was the Giants’ second round pick in the 2014 draft.  He made his major league debut in 2018, batting .286/.308/.492 in 19 major league games, but struggled in his 2019 appearances, batting .143/.217/.310 in 18 games.  Over his career he had a .258/.322/.430 batting line in the minors, and hit .271/.343/.488 in Triple-A Sacramento in 2019.  He was injured in winter ball in 2019, tearing the labrum in his hip, and missed 2020.  The young catcher was never able to establish himself as a primary backup for Buster Posey, and after top prospect Joey Bart made it to the majors in 2020, and with catcher Patrick Bailey made the first round pick in 2020, the catching position was an area of excess for the Giants.

Chris Shaw, 27, was a supplemental first round pick by the Giants in the 2015 draft, picked number 31 overall.  Shaw came up as a first baseman, but also played in left field.  With power being his primary tool, he hit 109 over five seasons in the minors, posting a .279/.340/.520 batting line.  But he could not establish himself in the Majors, batting .185/.274/.278 in 22 games in his debut 2018 season, and batting .056/.150/.056 across 16 games in 2019.  He did not appear in 2020, and was not even on the initial list of players invited to the Giants 60-man player pool, although he later was added to it.

Jordan Humphreys, 24, was received from the New York Mets for Billy Hamilton in the August 2020 trade.  Humphreys has only made two appearances since 2017, pitching a total of two innings for the Mets Gulf Coast League team in 2019, as he rehabbed from injuries.  He had a 1.55 ERA in 11 starts for Columbia in the Low-A South Atlantic League in 2019, though he had a 4.91 ERA in High-A St. Lucie after promotion that same year.  He only threw 80.2 innings total that season.  He never made an appearance with the Giants.

All three players designated for assignment could stay within the Giants system presuming they clear waivers and are not claimed by other teams.