San Francisco Giants: Austin Slater tearing up Triple-A pitching

The San Francisco Giants have already called up several players from the minors. Austin Slater is making a strong case to be next.

Austin Slater has seen significant time at the MLB level for the San Francisco Giants the past two seasons, hitting a combined .263/.335/.342 for an 86 OPS+ over 352 plate appearances.

He saw time at both corner outfield spots and first base during his previous runs on the MLB roster.

While there is already a logjam at spots on the current big league roster, the Giants might not be able to ignore what Slater is doing for Triple-A Sacramento much longer.

In the month of May, he’s hitting .387/.568/.839 with five doubles and eight home runs, while recording more walks (12) than strikeouts (8) in 78 plate appearances.

He’s been particularly hot of late, going 9-for-17 with two doubles and three home runs in his last four games.

So how does he fit onto the current MLB roster?

That’s tricky. While the bulk of his action has come in right field and at first base, he has seen some time at third base (46.1 innings) and second base (25.2 innings).

The Giants played Monday’s game with 14 pitchers and just 11 position players. That’s unlikely to be a regular occurrence, but chances are they will continue to go with a four-man bench going forward.

Stephen Vogt fills one spot as the backup catcher. Pablo Sandoval or Evan Longoria—whoever is not starting at third base—fills a second spot. Tyler Austin is out of options and would likely be lost on waivers if he were exposed, so he’s locked into a third spot for now.

That leaves one spot to fill going forward, and with no proven backup shortstop in that group, the most likely move would be to recall Donovan Solano from Triple-A.

However, if the team feels comfortable moving forward without a true backup shortstop, instead opting to use Longoria, Sandoval or second baseman Joe Panik as the “emergency shortstop” then maybe that opens the door for Slater to push his way onto the roster.

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It’s certainly something worth monitoring going forward, especially if he keeps swinging the bat the way he has for the past few days.