This is the question on everyone's mind. Top SF Giants outfield prospect Luis Matos is off to a hot start with the Sacramento River Cats, so when will he debut for San Francisco? Team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi suggested a couple of different ways this could happen.
When will the SF Giants call up top outfield prospect Luis Matos?
Zaidi joined Tom Tolbert and Adam Copeland on KNBR on Thursday evening and was asked when the Giants could expect to see Matos in a Giants uniform:
"“Luis Matos, who is playing really well in well in Triple-A. We don’t really have a spot for him right now. And, I think if he continues to produce, we may try to create one.”"- Farhan Zaidi
Zaidi did add the caveat that a long-term injury could create an opportunity for a Matos promotion as well. However, in reading between the lines, a shorter-term injury might be filled with someone like Bryce Johnson or Brett Wisely.
The Giants want to be careful with their top prospects and not yo-yo them between San Francisco and Sacramento. So, in the event of a short-term injury, that just may not create the right opportunity for Matos.
So, why can't they just create a roster spot? It is easier said than done. The Giants have an outfield contingent consisting of Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Blake Sabol, Mitch Haniger, and Michael Conforto.
Conforto leads the Giants with 12 home runs and has been one of the team's better hitters, so right field is not an option. The Giants invested in Haniger this past winter, and while he has struggled in the early going, they are going to be patient with him in left field.
The Giants can mix-and-match with Yastrzemski, Slater, and Sabol. In a sense, the outfield has a lot of pieces, and currently, those pieces fit pretty well, so there is just not a clear path to playing time for someone like Matos.
The Giants also have Joc Pederson, who is serving primarily as the team's DH. He has not made an appearance in the field yet in 2023 and it feels like they could fill his role with other players on the roster. With that being said, the left-handed bat remains one of the better hitters on the rosters, so trading him would be a tough move to make even if that is one of the more sensible options available.
If they did trade Pederson, then it would give Giants manager Gabe Kapler flexibility to move someone like Haniger or Conforto to DH on a roving basis to keep them healthy throughout the year. Again, this would still be a tough move, which is why the Giants do not have an obvious roster spot for Matos.
The top Giants outfield prospect has been on a tear all season. He posted an .842 OPS in 133 plate appearances in Double-A before earning a quick promotion to Triple-A. Since that promotion, the right-handed bat has registered a .380/.412/.587 line (138 wRC+) with three home runs, 13 RBI, and 16 runs in 98 plate appearances with Sacramento. This includes a 5.1 percent walk rate against an 8.2 percent strikeout rate.
Matos has tallied 12 multi-hit games in the 20 games since his promotion to Sacramento. This is all while being the youngest position player in the Pacific Coast League.
The Giants might not have a spot for him at the moment, but if he keeps performing like this, it is only a matter of time before the 21-year-old debuts at Oracle Park.