Taking their time with Stanton

Belt three homers and drive in seven in one game, and naturally you are going to draw attention.

Take it a step further, and hit five homers and knock in 11 in two games, and you have people wondering what is next.

What’s next for Mike Staton?

stanton3a4.jpgMore of the same.

The 20-year-old slugger is on a tear at Double-A Jacksonville. On Monday, he belted three homers in one game, driving in seven. Counting his two homers and four RBIs on Sunday, and you have five homers and 11 RBIs in two games.

Naturally, the Marlins are watching their top prospect with great interest. But the bottom line remains the same, the club is in no hurry to promote the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder.

Consider this fact, after 14 games he was batting .264 with four homers, nine RBIs with a .426 on-base percentage. He has walked 14 times and struck out 16 in 53 at-bats.

In a conversation late last week with Jim Fleming, the Marlins vice president of player development and scouting, he had this to say about Stanton:

“He’s doing fine. He’s not tearing it up. They’ve been pitching him very carefully as you might think. His at-bats are better. There are still some strikeouts. And more walks. We’re just trying to get him to have some consistent at-bats. So far, so good.”

In the three games since that conversation, Stanton has raised his average to .338 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs.

The impressive increase in production, however, doesn’t have the Marlins thinking about an immediate callup.

The scouting report on him is he is piecing his game together, bit by bit, but it isn’t quite there yet. What’s promising is how he is making the necessary strides to get better.

Another factor is the Marlins are above .500 after 20 games, and they are very much in the playoff picture.

There isn’t a need at this time. Granted, Chris Coghlan is struggling, but the Marlins aren’t about to send the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year to the Minors based on 20 games.

Yes, there are service time considerations. The Marlins know what they have in Stanton, and they know after late May or early June, he can be called up without pushing his arbitration process.

At that point, he wouldn’t qualify as a Super Two. That is an issue, because he wouldn’t reach his arbitration years after the 2012 season.

Money aside, not all 20-year-olds are ready. Granted, Jayson Heyward is off to a strong start with the Braves. But Heyward is the exception.

Heyward, right now, was ready. Stanton still is developing. He has 65 at-bats this season at Double-A, after 299 in 2009.

When Stanton was sent down in Spring Training, the team hoped he would tear up Double A for an entire season. They are hoping he would hit, say, 35 homers and knock in 100. They are looking at the big picture and how Stanton fits into their future.

Right now, Cody Ross is in right field, and he is more ready to help the Marlins win this season there than Stanton would.

The team also has seen the past three years what Cameron Maybin has gone through. Maybin was called up at age 20 by the Tigers, and after the 2007 season he was traded to the Marlins.

The Marlins recognized that Maybin needed more time in the Minor Leagues, where he spent most of 2008 and 2009. Maybin is getting better, and he’s still trying to let his game develop. But he’s doing so at age 23.

The hope is when Stanton is ready, he is ready to stay for the long haul. 

— Joe Frisaro


1 Comment

Hey Joe, I had a question about the Marlins philosophy. They tend to shift players between Double A and the bigs. At least for their top prospects. That is what they did for DTrian, Willis, Hermida, and now Hanley. Is there a reason for this?

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