Where would Stanton hit?

At Double-A Jacksonville, Mike Stanton is tearing it up batting third in the Suns’ lineup.

The 20-year-old power-hitting prospect is one of the top Minor League stories of the season. The right fielder has 15 home runs and 35 RBIs in 29 games.

stantonJax12.jpgThe earliest he is expected to arrive at the big league level is late May or early June, or basically shortly after players no longer qualify as a Super Two in the arbitration process.

As a big leaguer, Stanton projects to hit cleanup, but probably not from Day One.

Whenever the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is promoted to the big leagues, manager Fredi Gonzalez will figure out where he will hit in the order.

Managers typically are careful with young players, not putting them in prime spots — like third or fourth — initially. When Miguel Cabrera was promoted from Double-A to the big leagues at age 20, he batted eighth (behind Alex Gonzalez) in his first game. Eventually, Cabrera moved up to seventh, and by the World Series he was hitting cleanup.

A logical spot for Stanton to open in would be sixth, behind Dan Uggla. That would create a scenario where Hanley Ramirez bats third, Jorge Cantu fourth, Uggla fifth and then Stanton.

A bolder move could be to hit Stanton second, ahead of Ramirez. The Marlins top of the order hasn’t been consistent. While Stanton doesn’t profile to hit second long-term it could be something to consider, even though he will strike out a bit.

But being ahead of Ramirez may create more pitches for Stanton to hit. And if he walks, he wouldn’t be a base clogger, because he runs pretty well.

Stanton has a .493 on-base percentage right now at Double-A in 107 at-bats. He has walked 29 times with 32 strikeouts.

If Stanton starts off hitting sixth, he certainly would provide power in the lower half of the lineup.

What the Marlins would like to see foremost is Stanton continue to show he is big league ready. So when he does arrive, Gonzalez will have the luxury of simply having him in the lineup — no matter where he winds up hitting.

— Joe Frisaro


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