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Giants release Shun Yamaguchi, promote Matt Frisbee to AAA

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Yamaguchi is returning to Japan.

Las Vegas Aviators v Sacramento River Cats Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants made a few Minor League transactions on Thursday, most notably releasing right-handed pitcher Shun Yamaguchi, who will return to Japan to play in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Yamaguchi was playing for the AAA Sacramento River Cats, who will fill his hole in the rotation with right-handed pitcher Matt Frisbee, who has been promoted from the AA Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Yamaguchi was an NPB star before signing a two-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the 2020 season. He struggled mightily with the Blue Jays and was designated for assignment before the 2021 season. The Giants picked him up, essentially for free, and when he didn’t make the Opening Day roster he headed to Sacramento.

It’s unclear if the Giants chose to release him due to poor performance (he had a 6.17 ERA and a 1.414 WHIP in Sacramento), or if Yamaguchi asked for a release. There also may have been an opt-out clause in his contract for if he wasn’t on the active roster.

Up comes Frisbee, who has displayed phenomenal control in AA this year. Frisbee is sporting a ludicrous ratio of 32 strikeouts to just 1 walk, and has only given up 11 hits and 4 earned runs in 29 innings. He ranked as the No. 39 prospect in our 2021 Community Prospect List, and is certainly on pace to rise up that list — and enter the lists of other publications.

In other Minor League news, the Giants sent left-handed reliever Phil Pfeifer, who had an 11.25 ERA in AAA, down to AA. Taking his spot on the roster is infielder Arismendy Alcántara, who was activated from the Injured List.