The Giants have acquired left-hander Ethan Small from the Brewers for cash, the team announced. Milwaukee had designated him for assignment last week after acquiring Joey Ortiz and DL Hall for Corbin Burnes.
Small was a somewhat surprising DFA who always looked likely to attract interest from another team. He was Milwaukee’s first-round pick in 2019 and initially perceived as one of the better pitching prospects in their organization. While Small’s place in the farm system had fallen in recent years, he’s coming off a reasonably promising showing for their top affiliate in Nashville.
Working as a full-time reliever for the first time in his career, Small pitched to a 3.18 ERA over 51 Triple-A innings a year ago. He punched out an impressive 28.5% of opposing hitters. He paired that with a concerning 11.2% walk percentage. That surely played a part in Milwaukee deciding not to give him much of a shot at the MLB level. Small has only pitched in the big leagues four times, twice apiece in each of the last two years.
The Mississippi State product doesn’t throw especially hard. His fastball averaged 92 MPH in his limited MLB look last season. An atypical over-the-top arm slot adds some deception to his delivery, though, and prospect evaluators have credited him with a plus changeup.
San Francisco had an opening on the 40-man roster after last week’s Bay Area swap sending Ross Stripling to Oakland. They’ll use that to take a flier on Small, at least for the time being. The Giants are reportedly in talks with Jorge Soler and would need to create a roster spot if those discussions result in an agreement. Small has one minor league option remaining, so the Giants could keep him in Triple-A for the upcoming season if he holds his spot on the 40-man.