As a weekly reminder of who's doing good things down in the minors, Giant Potential will name a "Prospect of the Week" every Thursday afternoon, along with a few honorable mentions, highlighting the best of San Francisco Giants hopefuls. It's week 20 (skipped a week), and this time we'll honor yet another centerfielder. This former Stanford star began slowly after being promoted to Triple-A Sacramento, but has been climbing steadily and as of late, is boiling hot. Your potential future outfielder, Austin Slater.
CF, Austin Slater
- Age: 23
- Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
- Height/Weight: 6'2", 215 lbs
- Drafted: 2014, 8th round
- College: Stanford University
- Key Stats: 15 H, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 1.222 SLG
Austin Slater cooled off with an 0-for-3 night on Wednesday in Fresno. He misses Reno, Nevada. In a four-game series against the Aces, Slater collected 12 hits and eight went for extra bases. He homered five times, including two multi-home run games, and added a trio of doubles for show. He was a machine. And in the two games leading into the road trip, Slater went 5-for-9 with five singles.
So over his last eight games, Slater slugged 1.094. It's pushed his wOBA and wRC+ to season-high marks of .397 and 143, respectively, and has now driven his slash line with Sacramento to near the .300/.400/.500 mark after a slow start. Fifteen games into his promotion from Double-A to Triple-A, Slater sat at just .193/.258/.281, but has gone .331/.420/.577 since and is now comfortably at .295/.380/.500 in 250 plate appearances with the River Cats.
Why is this important? The Giants already have Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker, right? Though Slater will likely not hit for the power Parker has displayed or produce the batted ball velocity eye-candy of Williamson, Slater still has above-average power and can play center field. That by itself is incredibly intriguing, considering the expiring contracts of Gregor Blanco and former centerfielder Angel Pagan. Parker and Williamson are basically locked in at the corners, with Parker maybe being able to handle the occasional center field assignment.
Also crucial: strikeout rates. Slater has a career strikeout rate of 18.5 percent, and 19.4 percent in 2016. The knock on Williamson and Parker has always been the consistent Ks, so adding a guy that strikes out less often is obviously a perk. Williamson owns a 20.9 percent mark in the minors, and 23.8 percent in 147 big-league plate appearances. Parker is far worse, at 29.7 percent as a minor leaguer and 31.9 percent in the majors.
So if you're looking for pure power and nothing else? Parker is your guy. His .317 ISO in the minors this year is stupid good. But it comes with a ton of strikeouts. Williamson is .212 and strikes out less often, but he's still hurt. Sacramento isn't playing him every day because the Giants are being really cautious with him. So consider Slater, a .192 ISO guy who strikes out at a 19.4 percent clip and draws more walks than both Parker and Williamson.
(*For some reason, whenever a player hits two home runs in a game, MiLB only uploads the second home run. Every time. Without fail. So since Slater had two multi-home run games this past week, you only get to see three of the five total.)
- CF Bryan Reynolds: 9 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, .346 AVG
- RF Heath Quinn: 7 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, .550 SLG
- INF T.J. Bennett: 9 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, .909 SLG
- RF Dylan Davis: 9 H, 3 HR, .720 SLG, 14.8 K%
- 2B Brandon Bednar: 12 H, 2 2B, .480 AVG, 11.5 K%
- RHP Reyes Moronta: 3 G, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K
- RHP Johan Herrera: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K
— For the latest on #SFGiants minor leaguers, follow @Giant_Potential on Twitter