Austin Slater has worn plenty of gloves in his young baseball career. On Thursday, the 25-year-old added a new one.
In high school, Slater was a standout shortstop who was drafted by the Dodgers in the 44th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, and would have gone much higher if it wasn't for an injury that kept him out his senior year. When he moved on to Stanford, Slater started out at shortstop and second base before transitioning to the outfield.
As a professional in the Giants' minor leagues, Slater has played all three outfield positions, the majority of the 2015 season at second base, seven games at shortstop, and now one more game at a new position with a much bigger glove. In the Sacramento River Cats' 5-3 win over Las Vegas on Thursday night, Slater slide over to first base for the first time in his professional career.
In fact, it has been at least a baker's dozen of years since Slater last played the position, dating all the way back to Little League.
Austin Slater playing first base tonight for the first time since little league.— Johnny Doskow (@JDoskow) May 4, 2018
After his 2-for-4 performance against the 51s, Slater is now slashing .368/.448/.632 with eight doubles, two triples, and one home run in 15 games with the River Cats. In five games up with the Giants this season, the success hasn't followed Slater yet in a short sample size, going 2-for-10.
"I don't care where I'm playing as long as I'm hitting," Slater said in a feature story published before Thursday's game by the San Francisco Chronicle. "My mentality is, I see myself as a hitter who plays defense, hopefully above-average defense. Whatever it takes to be in the lineup."
For the last few weeks, Slater has been seen taking ground balls at first base. Putting him there in a game is brand new and a development to watch going forward with the prospect.
Chris Shaw's Power Show
Between the big leagues and the minor leagues, Chris Shaw led all Giants players in home runs with 24 last season. And he's on pace to complete the same feat in 2018.
Shaw homered for the third time in three games on Thursday night, bringing his season total to eight in 24 games. The big lefty is now batting .263 with an .883 OPS.
But, that high OPS is based mostly on a .566 slugging percentage. Shaw's on-base percentage is at a low .318 right now, down 28 points from last year. He has also struck out 40 times this season and only has six walks.
"I don't ever want to put myself into that category, a power-strikeout guy," Shaw said in the same interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. "Strikeouts are not something I'm OK with, but there's nothing I can do about the past. I've got to move forward, keep looking for my pitch and do what I should be doing with it."
Shaw's ability to hit the big fly is real and will play at AT&T Park when he gets called up. In the meantime, Shaw has cut down on his whiffs and find his way on base more if wants to be the complete hitter he desires to be.
The Giants start a road trip against the upstart Braves on Friday and both Slater and Shaw bring what Atlanta has and San Francisco lacks: youth, athleticism, power and versatility.