Six former San Jose Giants - Hector Correa, Charlie Culberson, Tyler Graham, Roger Kieschnick, Dan Otero and Angel Villalona - were added to San Francisco's 40-man roster last week. Correa and Otero were both standout relief pitchers in San Jose while Culberson, Graham and Kieschnick were each key offensive contributors on recent California League championship teams. Meanwhile, Villalona will be looking to get his career back on track next season after legal problems kept him off the field the last two years. By virtue of their placement on the 40-man roster, all six players have been protected from next month's Rule 5 draft.
In other roster moves announced by San Francisco late last week, former San Jose Giants Darren Ford and Waldis Joaquin were designated for assignment and thus removed from the 40-man roster. Both Ford and Joaquin could still remain in the organization by signing Minor League contracts.
Correa was acquired via trade by the San Francisco Giants from the Florida Marlins in 2009 and excelled in the San Jose bullpen during the first half of last season. The right-hander made 20 relief appearances with the Giants and fashioned a 3-1 record with a 1.93 ERA and two saves. Correa struck out 37 compared to just 12 walks over 42 innings while limiting the opposition to a stellar .141 batting average. He was promoted to Double-A Richmond days before the All-Star break and finished the year in the Eastern League. In 23 games with the Flying Squirrels, Correa logged a 4-1 record, one save and a 3.20 ERA.
Culberson was San Jose's Co-Most Valuable Player in 2010 (along with Brandon Belt) after smashing 28 doubles and 16 home runs to go with 71 RBI's and a .290 batting average. The former supplemental first round draft pick saw his batting average drop last season in Double-A (.259), but he still led the team in doubles (34), finished tied for second in home runs (10) and second in RBI's (56).
Graham spent all of 2008 and most of 2009 with San Jose while his 75 career stolen bases rank third in team history. Graham hit a spectacular .343 in Fresno (Triple-A) during the 2010 campaign before batting .273 with one home run and 31 RBI's in 127 games with the Grizzlies last season. Graham, a standout defensive outfielder with blazing speed, led the Pacific Coast League with 60 stolen bases this year.
Kieschnick earned California League All-Star honors in 2009 after blasting 23 home runs and collecting 110 RBI's to go with a .296 batting average. After an injury-plagued 2010 season in Richmond, the slugging corner outfielder returned to the Flying Squirrels last season and led the team in home runs (16) and RBI's (65). Kieschnick also produced 22 doubles, 13 stolen bases and finished with a .255 batting average.
Otero led the 2008 San Jose Giants with 16 saves before earning Eastern League All-Star honors with Double-A Connecticut the following season. The right-hander returned to San Jose late in 2010 as he recovered from Tommy John Surgery and then regained his top form last season pitching for both Richmond and Fresno. After logging a 1.42 ERA in 23 appearances with Flying Squirrels, Otero recorded 12 saves while posting a 3.25 ERA over 33 games in Fresno to finish the season.
Villalona was San Jose's opening day starter at first base in 2009 and played with the Giants until July of that year before suffering a season-ending leg injury. In 74 games, the then-18 year old hit .267 with nine home runs and 42 RBI's. Villalona was a murder suspect in the Dominican Republic and did not play in 2010 or 2011. However, with the charges now dropped, Villalona has been taken off the MLB Restricted List and is applying for a U.S. work visa.
Currently, every spot on San Francisco's 40-man roster is filled. 26 of the 40 are former San Jose Giants.
With the inclusion of these six players on the 40-man roster, not only do they greatly increase their chances for a big league call-up in 2012, but the organization has now protected them from other teams in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
High school players drafted in 2007 or earlier and college players selected in 2008 or earlier not on the 40-man roster are eligible for this year's Rule 5 draft. Additionally, international players signed in 2007 or earlier would also require protection from this year's draft.
It costs teams $50,000 to add a Rule 5 player to their major league roster. However, the team must then keep that player on the major league roster all season, otherwise they have to offer the player back to their original team for half the price. There are also Triple-A and Double-A phases to the Rule 5 draft with price tags of $12,000 and $4,000 respectively.
The Rule 5 Draft is scheduled for December 8 at Baseball's Winter Meetings in Dallas.
Notable Rule 5 eligible players left unprotected by the San Francisco Giants include catchers Johnny Monell and Jackson Williams, infielder Nick Noonan, outfielders Wendell Fairley and Juan Perez and pitchers Justin Fitzgerald, Kelvin Marte and David Quinowski. Top minor league prospects such as Gary Brown, Tommy Joseph and Heath Hembree are not yet Rule 5 draft eligible and thus don't have to be protected on the 40-man roster this offseason.