UPDATE (11:40am on Friday) -- The Giants called up Austin Slater and designated Justin Ruggiano for assignment, the team announced.
SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants are not yet ready to take a sledgehammer to their roster, but they’re clearly ready to start chipping away.
Austin Slater, a 24-year-old outfielder, will meet the club in Philadelphia, per sources. Slater is expected to see plenty of time in left field. He was hitting .322 for Triple-A Sacramento with four homers and 12 doubles.
Asked about Slater earlier in the week, a team official said the club didn’t want to call him up for a part-time role. It is likely, then, that Slater gets a long look in left field, a black hole for the Giants all season long.
Slater, originally from Florida, played collegiate ball at Stanford. He was an eighth-round pick of the organization in 2014 and shot through the minors, impressing in a Triple-A cameo last season. In 68 games for the River Cats in 2016, Slater hit 13 homers. The Giants hoped that would continue in spring training, but a hand injury suffered in winter ball sapped Slater of much of his pop. He finally got going in May, hitting .353 and slugging .525. A couple of weeks ago, manager Bruce Bochy said the reports on Slater were good, and he was looking forward to seeing him.
The Giants were going to call Slater up one way or another this season, as he had to be put on the 40-man roster at some point in 2017. It appears he’ll now get a shot at making an impression in left field, where the Giants have mostly turned to converted infielders in recent weeks.
Slater is viewed as a corner outfielder, although he has experience in center. The Giants also recently recalled Orlando Calixte, and perhaps that’s a hint at coming roster moves. Gorkys Hernandez and Justin Ruggiano, the other center field options, would appear to be on the chopping block, as Calixte can handle all three outfield spots. The Giants also have been discussing a move with Christian Arroyo, who has barely played over the past week and could be looking at another stint in Triple-A.
In addition, the Giants will likely have to add another minor leaguer when Hunter Strickland starts serving his suspension. Strickland is waiting to hear back from MLB, but the Giants will not go a man short in the bullpen for any significant period of time.