AT&T PARK — After two years of fans clamoring, the San Francisco Giants have called up outfield prospect Austin Slater. The question will be how long he stays.
The No. 5 prospect in the Giants system forced his way onto the roster by hitting .344 at Triple-A Sacramento, with five home runs, two triples, 32 doubles, with a .981 OPS in 223 plate appearances.
The man he’s replacing, Mac Williamson, had just five extra-base hits in 75 at-bats since returning from a concussion. Since his monthlong stay on the disabled list, Williamson — who hit three homers in the first five games of the season before hitting his head on the AT&T Park outfield wall — had struggled. He’d hit just .187 since returning, with only five extra-base hits.
The Giants optioned Williamson back to the River Cats, rather than DFA’ing either Austin Jackson or Hunter Pence, because there was a risk that during the DFA process, they could lose whoever they decided to designate. Williamson had options available, and needs to regain his early-season form while playing every day. That was not going to happen at the Major League level as long as he was slugging just .280.
Slater — a former star Stanford second baseman — converted to the outfield in 2016, and in 40 games up with the Giants since then, he’s hit .281 in 128 at-bats with three home runs, one triple and three doubles. He’d presumably get a look in left field — where Williamson was stationed — possibly platooning with Alen Hanson, who’s done a bit of everything for the Giants this season.
When Hanson — playing shortstop for Brandon Crawford (paternity list) on Wednesday — fouled a ball off his knee, Slater was called upon for the taxi squad for Thursday, but was not activated. He returned to Sacramento, where he went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles on Friday.