San Francisco Giants Top 2016 Prospects: #17
#17: Austin Slater, 2B/OF, Age 23: Slater was a 2014 8th round draft pick who (alongside fellow classmate of 2014 Hunter Cole) zoomed to AA in his first full season of pro ball. He was also selected as one of the Giants’ 2015 AFL representatives, playing some 2B and corner OF while hitting .250 for the champion Scottsdale Scorpions in October.
Slater was one of the top talents in Florida during his prep days, and turned down a late-round selection from the Dodgers to attend Stanford. He never showed much power during his collegiate years (not many Stanford hitters do), but he hit .341 during a breakout junior season in 2014. The Giants snagged him that summer, and watched as he actually improved his batting average to .347 in Salem-Keizer. He played primarily RF for the Volcanoes.
Slater earned a 2015 opening day assignment (and a position change, back to shortstop) to San Jose, where he hit .292 with 3 HR in 60 Cal League games. His time at shortstop was short-lived, but he did settle in at 2B for the SJ Giants, and that’s where he played all of his innings after a mid-season promotion to Richmond. He hit .296, without a HR in 54 games at AA.
I like Slater. At this point he really looks to be a guy who can hang defensively at 2B and the outfield corners. The Giants have been looking for a guy like that for a while. While he has shown good bat-to-ball skills up to this point, Slater’s low BB to K ratio (24:92) in 2015 is something he will need to improve if he wants to stick on a MLB roster someday. If he can get on base a bit more and strike out a little less, I can really envision him in a Kelby Tomlinson type role down the road. I’d expect to see Slater back in AA for the start of 2016.