Austin Slater

Down on the Farm: Don't forget about Austin Slater

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AP

Down on the Farm: Don't forget about Austin Slater

The Sacramento River Cats are filled with outfield talent. Finding ways to send them to San Francisco is the problem. Mac Williamson is on his way up after hitting .487 with six home runs in 11 games, but going into Friday's game, the Giants are stilling figuring out how to activate him on the roster.

While Williamson's hot start has deservedly grabbed headlines, another outfield option who showed what he can do at the big league level last year, is also peppering the ball all over the yard in Sacramento. 

Austin Slater has only played in eight of the River Cats' 14 games, but has been a force so far, going hitless in just one game. After going 2-for-4 with a double, triple, and two RBI on Thursday, Slater is now batting .433 with a 1.300 OPS. In his eight games played, Slater has 13 hits -- seven of those are doubles and two are triples. 

What Slater brings to the table that other options don't as much as himself, is versatility. Slater has played all three outfield positions in the short going this year and is adding another glove to his repetoire. 

The 25-year-old was a top prospect in high school as a shortstop. He even played seven games at shortstop for the San Jose Giants in 2015 and 96 games at second base between San Jose and the Richmond Flying Squirrels the same year. So far, he is yet to play first base. 

All of the Giants' outfielders in the bigs are simply one dimensional. That's where Slater separates himself. The Giants are an aging team full of veterans. They badly need athleticism and versatility, and Slater can do exactly that for them all while bringing a consistent bat. 

If the Giants could, they would get one of those memory-erasers from Men in Black and wipe away last season. One of the memeories they would keep is Slater's 34 games. Before missing significant time due to a hip injury in July and then re-injurying himself in September, which required sports hernia surgery, Slater slashed .282/.339/.402 with three home runs in his first taste of the majors. 

Bruce Bochy hopes that Mac Williamson's power can give the Giants a needed shot in the arm. There's no denying the team could use Slater's skillset too. The question of when and how that will happen though, will not be easy to answer for Bochy or anybody else. 

Swelling in right thumb keeps Posey out vs Padres

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AP

Swelling in right thumb keeps Posey out vs Padres

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants will try to salvage a series split without their best bat. 

Buster Posey was out of Sunday's lineup because of swelling in his right thumb. Bruce Bochy said Posey will be able to start Tuesday, and he wanted to give him two full days off since the Giants have a travel day Monday. 

When Posey returns, he'll catch Johnny Cueto. The right-hander's ankle felt good a day after he pitched a simulated game and he'll return to the rotation for the opener with the Diamondbacks. It at first seemed that Jeff Samardzija would be right behind him, but that's now up for discussion. 

Samardzija made a rehab start for the San Jose Giants on Saturday night and allowed six runs in the first inning while fighting command issues. He was much better after that, hitting 95 mph while piling up strikeouts late, and he reached 62 pitches. Still, Bochy said the staff is leaning toward having Samardzija (strained pectoral) make one more rehab start in the minors. 

--- Mac Williamson homered again Saturday. It was his fourth of the season, but don't expect him in the big league outfield anytime soon. 

"They haven't played that many games there, let's let these guys get some playing time and settled in, just like our guys," Bochy said. "Right now, we have no plans to make changes."

--- Austin Slater has started taking grounders at first in Triple-A. Bochy said the staff wants Slater, who was drafted as a second baseman, to get more versatility. The Giants are pleased with the way Gorkys Hernandez and Gregor Blanco have played as big league backup outfielders, and Williamson is now ahead of Slater in the pecking line for an outfield call-up. So this should help his cause. 

Down on the Farm: Beede throws one-hitter on Opening Day, could be headed to the bigs

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USATSI

Down on the Farm: Beede throws one-hitter on Opening Day, could be headed to the bigs

Two batters, two walks. That’s how Giants top pitching prospect Tyler Beede started off the 2018 season. It was the last thing he wanted after struggling in big league camp this spring. 

Beede was scheduled to start Opening Day for the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate Sacramento River Cats, but due to bad weather in Washington, the Giants sent Beede to San Bernardino to pitch for the San Jose Giants. The 25-year-old’s trip back to Advanced Single-A started with a walk, a pick-off attempt that resulted in an error by first baseman Gio Brusa advancing the runner to second base, and then another walk. A fly out to center brought Beede his first out, and the first of 11 straight batters retired. 

After searching for the strike zone to start the game against the Inland Empire 66ers, Beede settled in with a 12-pitch second inning on a pop out, strikeout and groundout. The third inning was just as smooth with two more groundouts and his second strikeout. Beede kept rolling with a pop out to catcher Jeff Arnold and his third strikeout of the day in the fourth inning before the streak ended on his third walk. But still, Beede was throwing a no-hitter. 

With two outs in the fifth inning, Beede’s no-hit bid ended on a soft line drive to right field that deflected off the glove of a leaping Jalen Miller at second base. The third out of the fifth inning, a groundout, was Beede’s final batter. He finished his first start of the season going five innings, giving up one hit and one earned run on three walks, and struck out four.

Throughout the game, Beede missed low trying to command his fastball. Those in attendance had him throwing 92-95 mph and he even touched 97 mph. While working to find the zone with his fastball, Beede was effective with his curveball, getting batters to roll over on the breaking ball. 

The big question now is, where will Beede make his next start? It certainly won’t be with the San Jose Giants, but it also may not be with the River Cats either. Beede might go from his first start with the San Jose Giants since 2015 to his MLB debut for the San Francisco Giants.

To start the season, the big-league Giants have gone with a four-man rotation as Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija are on the disabled list. The main reason the front office wanted to make sure Beede was on the bump somewhere Thursday, was all because of April 10. That date is Beede’s next start and it could come at AT&T Park against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 7:15 p.m. 

Once again, Beede proved he has a major-league arm in his Opening Day start. At the same time, he battled control issues with his fastball that have hampered him before. The next time he works on honing in on where his heater goes when he toes the rubber, Beede may be in front of a few more Giants fans.

Around The Horn

— The Giants’ No. 2 pitching prospect had a very similar first outing as the team’s No. 1. Andrew Suarez started the season opener for the River Cats and also only allowed one hit, but he walked four batters in four innings. Suarez did finish with four strikeouts, too. 

— It can only get better for the Giants’ first two picks in the 2017 MLB Draft. Heliot Ramos and Jacob Gonzalez combined to go 0-for-8 in their debut for the Augusta GreenJackets. 

— The River Cats’ first four hitters are all outfielders and names that you know by now. Here’s how they did: Steven Duggar (1-for-4, 2B, 2 Ks), Austin Slater (2-for-4, 2B), Chris Shaw (1-for-4, 2B, 1 K), Mac Williamson (1-for-3, 1 K).