According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Hank Schulman, the White Sox have claimed 26 year-old south paw Eric Surkamp off waivers from the Giants. While this may not seem like the most significant of moves right now, it could certainly be one that does have an impact on the 2014 season.
Surkamp tossing in one of his few MLB appearances. Credit: Tony Medina, Getty Images
Surkamp was drafted by the Giants in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of North Carolina State and has had a very nice minor league career since. He's pitched in 87 games (83 starts), posting a career 2.84 ERA with a 1.120 WHIP. In over 484 innings he's only let up 23 home runs while striking out over ten batters per nine innings tossed.
Tommy John surgery held him out in 2012 but he bounced back with a very fine 2013 (in A+ & AAA) getting 17 starts under his belt and again posting a very fine ERA and WHIP.
As mentioned by MLBTR, Baseball America ranked him as a Giants' top-30 prospect from 2010-13. So what gives, you ask? Well the Giants waived him to make room for free agent signees Ryan Vogelsong and Michael Morse, and it's really just as simple as that.
You can never have too many talented pitchers in AAA, that is for sure. But with lefties Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and John Danks already penciled into the starting rotation, he probably doesn't have a very good chance at taking down Erik Johnson, Felipe Paulino, or Andre Rienzo for a back-end rotation spot.
He could just be minor league insurance for this ball club, which would still make him somebody we may hear more from, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him join the battle for the second bullpen lefty spot behind recent signee Scott Downs.
That race in spring training will already include David Purcey, Donnie Veal, Charlie Leesman, and other guys not as well-known like Frank De Los Santos and Santos Rodriguez. But considering that that race is wide open for the taking, you've got to figure the more competition the better.
That's totally speculation on my end, though it does seem to make some sense. But like we mentioned, even if he is simply starting rotation insurance, he becomes a name you'll want to know … even if just in case.