July 23: The Giants have released Heston, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link).
July 13: In a move designed to clear 40-man roster space for recently-signed outfielder Jeff Francoeur, the Giants have designated minor leaguer Chris Heston for assignment, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 25-year-old Heston, a right-handed starter, has yet to see big league action.
Heston checked in at 17th among Giants prospects on Baseball America's pre-season ranking after a strong showing in Double-A last year, where he posted a 2.24 ERA over 148 2/3 innings and clocked 8.2 K/9 versus 2.4 BB/9. He was added to the 40-man over the off-season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Known as a "groundball machine" (per Baseball America), Heston has thrived as a pitchmaker in spite of his far-from-overpowering stuff.
In his first stint at the Triple-A level, however, Heston has struggled to a 5.80 ERA over 108 2/3 innings. His strikeout ratio is right on par with his career norms at 8.0 K/9, but his walks are up and he has allowed many more long balls than in past seasons. (Heston posted 2.4 BB/9 last year to go with a paltry — and surely unsustainable — .1 HR/9. This season, he stands a 3.8 BB/9 and has allowed 1.2 HR/9.) Nevertheless, given Heston's relatively strong prospect standing, Schulman wonders (also via Twitter) whether a trade could be in the works, since he "can't believe they'd let him go for nothing."