River Cats' Slater continues RBI surge

Giants No. 18 prospect plates four again in 4-for-4 game

Austin Slater had driven in 11 runs in his first 27 games before his recent surge. (Jamie Harms/MiLB.com)

By Michael Peng / MiLB.com | May 14, 2017 1:32 AM ET

When a player drives in several runs, it's usually a given that his teammates also had good games.

Austin Slater took advantage of that scenario for the second time in three nights on Saturday.

"It definitely makes your job easier when the guys in front of you are making lot of hard contact and getting on base," the Giants' No. 18 prospect said. "It makes the pitcher uncomfortable. You see that and you just want to feed off that energy and keep the line moving. That's the goal in playing team baseball."

Batting second behind Jae-Gyun Hwang, Slater collected four more RBIs as part of a 4-for-4 night in Triple-A Sacramento's 11-2 rout of Colorado Springs at Security Service Field. He reached base six times and fell a triple shy of the cycle.

Hwang was 3-for-6 with his first homer of the season and tied a season high with three RBIs. 

"The game didn't get off to quite the start I was expecting," said Slater, who was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat. "So, for me, it was more of just staying locked in the whole game and I ended up doing some damage from the sixth inning on."


Gameday box score


The 24-year-old outfielder singled to right field in the third and walked in the fifth. He smacked a three-run homer to center in the sixth off reliever Andy Oliver to give the River Cats an 8-2 lead.

"There were runners on second and third for me with an open base facing a lefty," Slater said. "They had a righty warming up in the bullpen, so I was looking for something off-speed. He ended up throwing two sliders and I was able to put the barrel on the second one."

The 2014 eighth-round pick added an RBI double to center in the seventh and a single to right in the ninth for his first four-hit game of the season. He also raised his batting average with runners in scoring position to .438 (14-for-32).

"You've just got to pay attention to where the defense is playing and also how they've been pitching with runners in scoring position," Slater said. "A lot of times, pitchers get into a different sort of rhythm in the stretch, so it's about sticking to your approach and having a plan going into it on how he's going to try to attack you."

The Stanford product has eight RBIs in his last three games after driving in 11 runs in his first 27 contests. On Thursday, Slater plated four batting behind Orlando Calixte, who went 5-for-6 with two homers.

Slater offered praise for Hwang, a native of South Korea. 

"He's been able to carry a great mindset through the ups and downs," Slater said. "I know Minor League baseball can kind of be a grind sometimes, but he brought great energy. He's been consistent the whole year. It's great to see him finally get the monkey off his back and get that first home run over here."

Saturday also marked the fourth time Slater has batted second, a spot that was being held by Giants No. 2 prospect Christian Arroyo prior to being called up to San Francisco on April 24. Since then, Slater and his teammates have made up for Arroyo's absence.

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"I think that's very encouraging to see the Giants make a move like that," Slater said. "[Arroyo] was crushing it down here. You see that and it gives you a little extra motivation. You see they reward guys that are putting up numbers, and that's the kind of organization you want to be in. You also want to return the favor to them because they preach winning at every level and I think we are finally able to piece together all three parts of the game lately.

"Before Christian left, we'd get one or two every night, but not a complete game. But I think we are finally starting to piece all three together and we are having a lot of fun doing it."

Carlos Moncrief and Juan Ciriaco each had two hits and two RBIs for Sacramento. 

Giants' eighth-ranked prospect Joan Gregorio (2-2) allowed two runs on four hits, struck out six and overcame five walks in six innings.

Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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