Maybe you’ve started to hear the buzz surrounding Mike Stanton. In 23 games for the Marlins Double-A affiliate, the outfield prospect is hitting .354 with 12 home runs, a .505 OBP and an .866 SLG. Sounds like the Double-A equivalent to Barry Bonds if you ask me.
Stanton was ranked as baseball’s third best prospect by Baseball America, behind only Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg. If not for those once-in-a-decade type talents, Stanton would have easily been ranked first.
Stanton’s power is off the charts. Actually, it’s at the very top of the chart. Scouts universally have Stanton’s power rated as an 80, the highest possible grade on the standard 20-80 scale. That seems more than reasonable to me considering that he hit 39 home runs in 125 games as an 18-year old in Single-A.
The one criticism for Stanton is that he strikes out too much. Last year in Double-A he struck out 99 times in 79 games as a 19-year old. But at a mere 20 years old, Stanton seems to be improving his plate discipline. Although he has been striking out a lot, he has more walks than strikeouts (25 to 24). He also has five intentional walks, which is unheard of for a minor leaguer at this stage of the season. To say that opposing pitchers are fearful of him is an understatement.
It’s clear that Stanton is a more than an adequate “consolation” prize for those of you that missed out on Heyward, but when can you expect him to get called up?
In an ideal world the Marlins would want to wait until at least early June to call up Stanton so they can have him under control for another year, but they may not be able to wait that long. Florida’s outfield is slumping badly this year. Chris Coghlan, Cameron Maybin and Cody Ross are batting .188, .247 and .264, respectively, with a combined two home runs. That’s right, Mike Stanton has six times more home runs than the Marlins’ starting outfield has combined.
The Marlins currently sit 1.5 games back in the National League East and have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs this year. If their outfield continues to struggle, they will have no choice but to call up Stanton. There were also preseason rumblings that Florida was trying to trade Dan Uggla or Ross, presumably to make room for Stanton (Coghlan would move to second if Uggla is traded). Stanton’s play may force them to resume these talks.
While there’s a chance that the Marlins will have Stanton promoted to Triple-A before the big league club, I find that scenario highly unlikely. Florida has a history of having prospects make the jump from Double-A to the majors, most notably Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Dontrelle Willis, and Uggla.
If anyone in the minors has the chance to make a Ryan Braun/Evan Longoria-type impact as a rookie, it’s Mike Stanton. Ultimately, I think we will see him in a Florida Marlins uniform within the next couple of weeks. While I won’t predict Braun or Longoria numbers, I could see him batting .275 with 20-25 home runs and 70-75 RBI.
In a keeper league or a deep league, Stanton is someone you want to go all in on if he hasn’t been scooped up already. In shallow, yearly leagues, you may want to temper your expectations a bit. Don’t cut a Hunter Pence for him, but if he’s someone you want, now is the time to pick him up.
I will leave you with this quote from Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ baseball operations president: “If he keeps going like he’s going, he’s gonna create opportunity for himself.”