San Francisco Giants 2013 sixth-round selection, right-hander Nick Vander Tuig, was among six minor league players released by the organization last week, March 14, in what is a dreaded time of year for aspiring major leaguers. The ebb and flow of players in and out of an organization, especially during the middle of spring training, leaves team personnel with no choice but to cut ties with pitchers and position players.
Vander Tuig was a UCLA hero, winning the Bruins' College World Series-clinching game his senior year in Westwood before San Francisco drafted him 192nd overall two and a half years ago. A native of Oakdale, Calif., Vander Tuig underwent his first Tommy John surgery during his junior campaign, rendering his final high school season at Oakdale a wash. But Vander Tuig rebounded to become a second-team All-American his final year at UCLA, rocking a 2.16 ERA and a 14-4 record heading into the draft.
Though struggling during his first two professional seasons, a mix of time spent between the AZL rookie squad and the "High-A" San Jose Giants, Vander Tuig found himself off to a promising start in 2015. He made five starts among eight games pitched and kept his ERA below three and his WHIP hovering near one. According to The Modesto Bee, Vander Tuig felt something concerning in his throwing elbow during an April 26 outing at Bakersfield. It was then he feared his second Tommy John surgery in a three-year span. An eventual MRI brought those fears to life, and the Northern California native went in for the operation last June before being released a week ago.
Vander Tuig was part of a talented 2013 draft class for the Giants, who selected highly-touted high-school shortstop Christian Arroyo 25th overall, right-handed Cal Poly starter Chase Johnson in round three, and promising reliever Dan Slania in the fifth round, among others.
Ramer, Mercedes, others let go
The same day Vander Tuig received word of his release, five other Giants minor leaguers were let go, as well. Undrafted Bay Area native Robert Ramer was signed by San Francisco in 2014 and pitched in nine games for the Augusta GreenJackets before an injury sidelined him until he was released on March 14.
Also released were shortstop Hector Mercedes, outfielder Mark Nelson, catcher Kleiber Rivas, and left-hander Jarret Leverett. Mercedes held the longest tenure with the Giants' organization, playing two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and three in Arizona with the rookie squad. Nelson, like Ramer, was an undrafted player signed from the independent Frontier League. He struggled to a .127 batting average in 97 plate appearances spent mostly with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in 2015. Rivas, a native of Venezuela, had his best season in 2015 in rookie ball but was only able to maintain .227 average over four seasons. Leverett, also undrafted, saw 25 games of action mostly in Salem-Keizer in 2015.
For a complete list of Giants' moves, see the Minor League Transactions page.
— For the latest on #SFGiants minor leaguers, follow @Giant_Potential on Twitter