With Major League Baseball on pause in a lockout, the minors continued with a big offseason event, the Rule 5 Draft minor league phase.
The San Francisco Giants lost six players in the minor league portion of the draft, the most that any team lost, while selecting one player. They lost LHP Conner Menez (Cubs, 1st round), RHP Matt Seelinger (Phillies, 1st Round), 1B John Nogowski (Braves, 1st Round), OF Vince Fernandez (Athletics, 2nd), IF Jacob Gonzalez (Pirates, 3rd Round), and RHP Jon Duplatier (Dodgers, 3rd Round).
The Giants picked Michael Gigliotti, an outfielder from the Tampa Bay Rays, for their only acquisition.
In the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 draft, players who are picked have no roster requirements to stay with their new teams, unlike the big league portion. Organizations pay $24,500 to the player’s old team as part of the deal, which is as much as double the salary they often pay these players.
The Major League portion of the draft, which notoriously contains roster requirements in order to keep players, was delayed. It is unclear whether the that part of the draft will happen after the lockout is ended.
Michael Gigliotti, who the Giants picked up, is a left-handed hitter who has a reputation of taking a lot of pitches. The 25-year old spent 2021 with the Tampa Bay Rays, playing 21 games at High-A Bowling Green, batting .203/.311/.391, and six games in the rookie Gulf Coast League. Gigliotti has had problems staying on the field, playing a career-high 87 games in 2019 after a knee injury cost him almost his entire 2018 season.
Giliotti does have speed and defense, which the Giants will value, though he’s going to be 26 in the upcoming season without having played above High-A. He was drafted as a Royal, but was traded to the Rays in 2020. It bodes well he’s been chased by two of the smartest organizations in baseball now.
LHP Conner Menez had pitched spells with the big league team from 2019 through 2021, with a career 4.04 ERA across 23 appearances. He had come up as a starter, but since 2020 had worked mostly in relief. Though he had a solid 3.86 ERA in the Majors in 2021 in eight appearances, he had an ugly 6.75 ERA in 26 appearances (five starts) at Triple-A Sacramento.
RHP Matt Seelinger had been acquired by the Giants in 2019 as the return for Eric Kratz, whom the Giants sent to Tampa Bay. He’d had a solid year in 2021 at Double-A Richmond, with a 3.07 ERA in 36 relief appearances, and 64 strikeouts to 31 walks in 41.0 innings. Seelinger, 26, had originally been drafted by Pittsburgh in the 28th round of the 2017 draft, and was traded to Tampa Bay in 2018.
1B John Nogowski had just joined the Giants as a minor league free agent in the 2021 season, getting into just eight games at Triple-A Sacramento, hitting .185/.290/.444. In 2021, he’d also played for the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals, 36 games), and the Indianapolis Indians (Pirates,19 games). A 2014 draft pick by the Oakland Athletics, the 28-year old is about to join his fifth organization with the Braves.
OF Vince Fernandez joined the Giants in 2020 as a minor league Rule 5 pick off the Colorado Rockies and spent the season in Double-A Richmond, playing 81 games and hitting .229/.331/.470, with 14 home runs. His career-high in home runs was 24 while in Lancaster, which is a horribly offensive-skewed park, but otherwise has hit 16, 15, and now 14 home runs over his past four seasons.
IF Jacob Gonzalez was part of the top of the SF Giants 2017 draft, picked between top prospects Heliot Ramos (1st round) and Seth Corry (3rd round), and initially was fantastic in the Arizona League. But the son of Luis Gonzalez has struggled since. The 23-year old hit .174/.252/.250 in 27 games at High-A Eugene, but did succeed in a return to Arizona, hitting .301/.360/.497 in 48 games at the ACL, where he was one of the oldest competitors. Gonzalez has always had power in his swing, but was unable to unlock it, and has had experience playing both third and recently first base.
RHP Jon Duplantier was a Giant for five days. He had signed right at the end of November as a minor league free agent out of Arizona, where he had a 6.70 career MLB ERA in 19 appearances, seven of which were starts, between 2019 and 2021. Injuries have derailed his career, as he was a former top prospect, with a 2.55 ERA in 2018 primarily in Double-A. The Giants were likely looking at him as rotation depth in the minors, but the Dodgers are thinking the same thing, as they grabbed him up.