MLB News

Giants Option Marco Luciano, Select Nick Ahmed, Release Pablo Sandoval

Giants Option Marco Luciano, Select Nick Ahmed, Release Pablo Sandoval

The Giants announced a huge slate of transactions Thursday as they set their Opening Day roster. Shortstop prospect Marco Luciano and outfield prospect Luis Matos were optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to begin the season. San Francisco selected the contract of veteran shortstop Nick Ahmed and right-hander Landen Roupp, who’ll both make the Opening Day roster. The Giants also recalled lefty Erik Miller from Triple-A, placed righties Sean Hjelle and Alex Cobb on the 15-day IL (as expected), designated catcher/outfielder Cooper Hummel for assignment, placed lefty Ethan Small on the 60-day injured list and released infielder Pablo Sandoval. Out of options catcher Joey Bart made the roster.

Luciano, 22, is widely considered to be among the game’s top 100 prospects. He made a brief MLB debut last year and was in competition for the Opening Day roster nod throughout the entirety of camp, but the Giants will defer to the veteran Ahmed as their Opening Day shortstop.

Luciano heated up toward the end of camp, perhaps making the decision a bit tougher, but he finished with a .227/.364/.432 slash and a 34.5% strikeout rate in 55 plate appearances. Those strikeout troubles have been an issue for some time; Luciano fanned in 29.8% of his Double-A plate appearances last year and 35.9% of his Triple-A plate appearances. He’ll head back to the upper minors to continue to work on that area of his game.

In his place, the Giants will turn to longtime division foe Ahmed, who’s spent his entire 10-year career with the Diamondbacks. Ahmed, who’s won a pair of Gold Gloves in his career, has always been a defensive-minded shortstop. He’s long ranked as one of the premium defenders in the game, regardless of position. However, his already modest offensive production has taken a stark downturn over the past two seasons due to a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery.

Ahmed has looked sharp this spring, however, turning in a .355/.459/.645 slash with a pair of homers in a small sample of 37 plate appearances. The Giants bid adieu to their own longtime premier defensive shortstop, Brandon Crawford, this offseason. (Were it not for Crawford, Ahmed may have a few more Gold Gloves on his mantle.) Ahmed will bring a similar skill set to the table, though he’s three years younger. And, since he doesn’t have such a storied history with the franchise, it’ll be easier to cut him loose or significantly reduce his playing time if he struggles and/or if Luciano…

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