The second half is here and the Giants’ youth movement is expected to continue, especially with the July 31 MLB trade deadline approaching.
San Francisco is sending out 24-year-old pitcher Shaun Anderson to start the first game after the All-Star break Friday in Milwaukee, but that isn’t the biggest storyline. The fact that Austin Slater is starting in right field is significant.
Slater is batting .429 in five games in the big leagues this year, but he was expected to mainly face left-handed pitchers when he was called up from Triple-A Sacramento. He was hitting .339 against lefties in the minors this season with a 1.078 OPS.
While Slater is batting .500 in just six at-bats against lefties in the big leagues this year, both of his homers have been hit off right-handed pitchers. Slater, 26, could certainly get a long look in the second half.
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It will be interesting to see how he fares against right-handers with a larger sample size. Over 113 big league games, Slater has hit .303 off lefties compared to .251 off right-handers.
Here are the lineups for Giants-Brewers for Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. PT with pregame coverage beginning at 4 p.m. You can follow the action on NBC Sports Bay Area or by downloading and streaming on the MyTeams app.
San Francisco Giants (41-48)
Brandon Belt, 1BBuster Posey, CEvan Longoria, 3BAlex Dickerson, LFKevin Pillar, CFBrandon Crawford, SSAustin Slater, RFJoe Panik, 2BShaun Anderson, P (2-1, 4.11 ERA)
Milwaukee Brewers (47-44)
Lorenzo Cain, CFChristian Yelich, RFYasmani Grandal, CMike Moustakas, 3BRyan Braun, LFEric Thames, 1BKeston Hiura, 2BOrlando Arcia, SSChase Anderson, P (4-2, 4.32 ERA)
There are two ways to look at the Wild Card standings.
Do you pull them up and see the Giants right in the hunt, 5 1/2 games back after taking six of seven at the end of the first half?
Or do you pull them up and see a team that needs to go 46-27 just to reach 87 wins, which is about the bare minimum for a second Wild Card spot?
I’ll allow you to dream if you want because any Giants fan has earned that right after the last two-plus years. But it’s more than fair to be a realist and lower expectations, which is what I’ll do here.
[RELATED: Five bold predictions for Giants’ second half]
As the Giants start the second half, I’m setting the bar a bit lower. Here are 10 modest and realistic goals for the club in the second half:
VIEW GIANTS’ SECOND-HALF GOALS HERE
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The Giants added a former local prep star full of power when they selected Hunter Bishop out of Arizona State with the No. 10 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. They could use the same philosophy at the July 31 MLB trade deadline.
As the Cardinals reportedly have long been interested in a trade for Giants closer Will Smith, the Giants should be just as interested in a Cardinals outfield prospect. Sacramento native Dylan Carlson, who was the No. 33 overall pick out of Elk Grove High School in the 2016 MLB Draft, is the exact kind of player the team needs.
Carlson, 20, is a 6-foot-2 switch-hitting outfielder, who has crushed the ball this season for the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate. Through 81 games for the Springfield Cardinals, Carlson is hitting .294 with 14 home runs and a .902 OPS. He’s stolen 13 bases, too.
Though many outlets project Carlson as a right fielder in the major leagues, he has the ability to play all three positions in the outfield. This season, he’s played 62 games in center field, nine in right and five in left. He also has showcased a strong arm with 32 career outfield assists in the minors.
While every member of the Giants outside of Smith was on vacation during the All-Star break, Carlson joined Giants prospects Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos on the NL squad at the Futures Game. He started in right field and went 1-for-2 with an RBI single. And he’s been on fire since showcasing his talents against the best prospects in baseball.
In three games since the Futures Game, Carlson has gone 8-for-15 and hammered a solo shot to right field Thursday night.
You know it. You love it. Here’s the year’s 14th #DYLANDINGER!#SGFCards | #RockYourRED pic.twitter.com/CGaamiRAwu— Springfield Cardinals (@Sgf_Cardinals) July 12, 2019
Carlson is an interesting case to look at with him being a switch-hitter, too. He has way more at-bats left-handed this year than from the right side — 253 to only 60 — and has had some more success as a lefty. From the left side, he’s hitting .300 with 10 homers and a .917 OPS compared to .267 with four long balls and an .838 OPS right-handed. But many evaluators believe his right-handed swing is more consistent.
Here’s a look at Carlson’s spray chart for his entire career in the minors, via Baseball Savant. It’s clear he has power to all field as a switch-hitter.
The Giants need right-handed power hitters with how Oracle Park plays, but Carlson being a switch-hitter shouldn’t scare off the front office. His left-handed power could be just as valuable if the team does indeed move in the fences to cut off Triples Alley in right-center field.
[RELATED: Five bold predictions for Giants in second half of season]
Now, would the Cardinals trade their No. 2 prospect who looks to be on the fast track to the big leagues? Trying to acquire him surely will be a tough game of tug of war for the Giants front office, and it could certainly cost more than a few months of Smith. If that is the case, the young outfielder is worth it.
The Giants need to get younger, more powerful and more athletic at the trade deadline. Carlson checks all the boxes.