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Giants tap youngster Slater to boost offense

Outfielder is latest prospect to be called up
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Austin Slater was about to board the bus Thursday morning with Triple-A Sacramento when his manager, Dave Brundage, stopped him and diverted his course.

Instead of making the road trip to Albuquerque, Slater, still half-asleep and told he was destined for brighter lights and bigger crowds, learned he was called up to the Giants as the second hitting prospect to have broken the Triple-A ranks in the last four days.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Austin Slater was about to board the bus Thursday morning with Triple-A Sacramento when his manager, Dave Brundage, stopped him and diverted his course.

Instead of making the road trip to Albuquerque, Slater, still half-asleep and told he was destined for brighter lights and bigger crowds, learned he was called up to the Giants as the second hitting prospect to have broken the Triple-A ranks in the last four days.

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Slater, who was tearing up the Pacific Coast League, slashing .322/.381/.460, made his first start Friday and went 1-for-5 with an RBI, a walk and a run scored in the 10-0 win against the Phillies. He batted in the eighth spot and played right field.

Veteran Justin Ruggiano was designated for assignment to make room for Slater on the 40-man roster, ranked as the Giants' No. 17 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

As has their offense as a whole (.635 OPS), the Giants outfield has been a glaring weakness (.579 OPS). Both of those OPS marks rank last in the Majors.

"Slater's here to hopefully help this offense out," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday's game. "He can play all three outfield positions. He's been swinging the bat well down there so we're going to take a look at him."

Utility man Orlando Calixte was brought up to the Majors earlier in the week after hitting .287/.331/.507 with Triple-A Sacramento. Even before the calendar flipped to May, the Giants called up 22-year-old Christian Arroyo, who had been raking with Triple-A as well.

Slater, 24, understood the organization's willingness to respond to Minor League production given its current predicament.

"It shows that they're willing to reward stellar play and [Arroyo] was hitting out of his mind down there. ... In your mind you're thinking, 'He set a benchmark, but if I play well they're not afraid to make a move,'" Slater said.

The Giants -- now 22-33 and looking up in the standings at three National League West teams that all look to be postseason contenders at the moment -- are in a peculiar position. They have young, controllable talent, but the necessary supporting cast is not currently present. They have to decide whether they will be true sellers come the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

In turn, they've begun promoting hitters in search of a spark for their anemic offense.

"We want to take a look at these young guys, see what we have with them," Bochy said.

Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Giants on Friday

San Francisco Giants