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Baseball the right choice for Stanton

Former three-sport star now among game's top prospects

 

Saying no to Pete Carroll was definitely a difficult decision for Mike Stanton, but it was a choice the highly-touted Marlins outfield prospect felt he had to make. [/size]

 

By forgoing football at the University of Southern California, Stanton embraced the opportunity to play baseball full-time.

 

A three-sport standout at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Stanton was the Marlins' second-round pick in 2007. After posting a monster '08 season at Class A Greensboro, the 6-foot-6, 230-pounder has shown why so many MLB scouts feel he is one of baseball's top prospects.

 

Stanton, who turns 19 on Nov. 8, opened eyes in his first full season of pro ball. For the Grasshoppers, he batted .293 with 39 home runs and 97 RBIs.

 

"Mike is very driven," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins' vice president of player development and scouting. "He wants to be a really good player. He wants to continue to improve. He doesn't want to be known as a guy with big power. He wants to be known as a baseball player."

 

The all-around aspect of his game was evident in '08, as he improved as the season progressed. Before the All-Star break, he hit .281 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs. An aggressive hitter, he struck out 86 times in 249 at-bats.

 

After the break, his numbers improved to .306 with 24 home runs and 50 RBIs in 219 at-bats. With a better command of the strike zone, his strikeouts reduced. He fanned just 67 times and drew 42 walks in the second half.

 

Stanton has the ability to hit for power and average, and he projects as a top-flight big league right fielder. Some within the industry have mentioned the name Dave Winfield, the Hall of Famer and former three-sport athlete, when they talk about Stanton.

 

"He wants to be good on defense -- he just wants everything," Fleming said. "When we identify something for him, he works at it. One of the things we identified in the second half was, let's see if he can cut down on his strikeouts."

 

He did.

 

It's not surprising that Stanton expects so much because, basically, he's enjoyed a great deal of success in so many areas.

 

In high school, he excelled as a wide receiver in football, and he was the center on his basketball team.

 

A highlight during his senior year was when Carroll, the highly-respected football coach at USC, stopped by Stanton's school on a recruiting trip.

 

"That was pretty overwhelming, to be honest," Stanton said. "To see him on TV every day, to have him come to my school just to see me and talk to me about coming to play for him -- it was pretty overwhelming. That made my decision even tougher, but I don't regret my decision at all."

 

Had he not signed with the Marlins, Stanton was prepared to play baseball and football at USC. While basketball was the sport he played first -- on an 8-foot rim when he was 4 1/2 years old -- he had no intentions of playing college basketball, as well.

 

"There was no way I was going to play three sports in college," Stanton said. "That would have been way too tough."

 

When Stanton was coming out of high school, the main question the Marlins wanted answered was: Where was his heart?

 

"We looked to establish if baseball was his primary interest," Fleming said. "If it was not, that would soften us quite a bit. Mike stated to us from the beginning that baseball was his preference, and giving up football was not a big concern for him. He thought baseball was the direction that he wanted to go."

 

In doing their legwork, the Marlins asked around about Stanton's intentions. They were sold that he wanted to concentrate solely on baseball, and they took him in the second round.

 

What Stanton wanted to see was how he would handle sticking with one sport.

 

"It was tough at first for me because I had never played one sport," he said. "It was always, I'd have basketball practice and baseball hitting at night. Or during baseball season, I'd have to go to the gym and shoot, to keep up with all three sports. I was pretty interested in seeing how it would be like to stick to one sport all the way through, and not have to deal with but one."

 

If his numbers at Greensboro are any indication of what lies ahead for the outfielder, then the future is very bright.

 

Stanton tries not to think about such projections, and Fleming downplays labeling an 18-year-old as a top prospect.

 

"He had a great year, and people are all excited, and we've always been excited," Fleming said. "I hate what happens to guys like this. It's not fair. He's in A-Ball. He's an extremely talented guy. We have high hopes for him, and in our opinion, who's the top guy? That's not important. It's just about developing Mike and getting him to the big leagues."

 

The fact remains, the Marlins have pretty much made Stanton an "untouchable" prospect. That proof came back at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

 

At the time, Florida explored dealing for slugger Manny Ramirez, who was being shopped by Boston. Much has been reported and speculated as to why Ramirez ended up with the Dodgers and not the Marlins.

 

The main reason is Florida was not willing to part with Stanton, whose name became attached to the deal.

 

"I didn't really believe it at first," Stanton said of his name in trade talks. "Then, obviously, it was true. That was a little overwhelming, because at one point you can just be gone to another team as easy as that.

 

"From a business standpoint, that's a lot of respect given to me that I was even brought up for a player like Manny."

 

Initially, some of his Greensboro teammates kidded him about the trade that didn't happen.

 

"They had their jokes and stuff. I tried not to think about it," he said. "If it was going to happen, it was going to happen. If not, it was just another day."

 

If anything, being rumored in the trade may have motivated Stanton in his strong second half.

 

"Maybe it did, and I didn't realize it," he said. "Maybe it didn't. I'm not really sure. It could have, but I didn't really think about it. I didn't wake up every morning, think about that and then went out and played. I think, just over the course of the season as it went on, the repetitions were helping rather than that [possible trade]."

 

In 2009, Stanton projects to start off at Class A Jupiter. The Marlins typically promote their top prospects to the big leagues after they've shown they can produce at the Double-A level. So a realistic time frame for him to make his MLB debut would be in 2010, or perhaps as early as an '09 September callup.

 

Watching the playoffs, Stanton is seeing a lot of young players succeeding early in their careers. The Rays are a prime example, as they feature young stars like B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria. "To see how young they are, and some of them are 23 and 24," Stanton said. "I've got a few years before I'm even that old. That gives me maybe a little motivation to be there even faster than they did, and try to make my stamp."

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Dave Winfield comparison?

 

This writer is getting Waaaaaayyyyy too carried away, this guy has only been in Single A thus far, you cannot compare a guy in Single A to a Hall Of Famer.

 

Still, I am getting more and more excited about the possibilites of getting to see THE Michael Stanton as a '09 callup

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I remember when Miguel Cabrera was first called up, I did not follow the minor leagues as closely as I do now, and I only knew he was a somewhat hyped prospect; but I looked at him, the way he carried himself in the batter's box, his stance, the huge legs supporting the perfect frame... everything about him screamed superstar. I thought, this guy is going to be not only a star, but a top 5 hitter in all of baseball. Obviously looking back it wasn't that bold of a predication..but I just knew from a first glance. With Mike Stanton, I just need to see one picture and I get the same feeling:

 

 

 

 

Tell me that guy is not going to be a superstar in this league??? That guy is 18!!!!!!!!!! 18!!! Mike Stanton is the truth and if I see one more person call Jason Heyward a top 3 prospect in baseball but Mike Stanton is not a top 30 or so guy...I will break my computer.

 

Stanton >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Heyward. I'm so sick of every site overrating Heyward and underrating on Stanton because he strikes out (at least in the first half) more, plays for the Braves and was drafted a round higher.

 

/end unnecessary Heyward rant.

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Dave Winfield comparison?

 

This writer is getting Waaaaaayyyyy too carried away, this guy has only been in Single A thus far, you cannot compare a guy in Single A to a Hall Of Famer.

 

Still, I am getting more and more excited about the possibilites of getting to see THE Michael Stanton as a '09 callup

 

 

 

As a 19 year old?

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Dave Winfield comparison?

 

This writer is getting Waaaaaayyyyy too carried away, this guy has only been in Single A thus far, you cannot compare a guy in Single A to a Hall Of Famer.

 

Still, I am getting more and more excited about the possibilites of getting to see THE Michael Stanton as a '09 callup

 

 

 

As a 19 year old?

 

If you're good enough, you're old enough........

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Dave Winfield comparison?

 

This writer is getting Waaaaaayyyyy too carried away, this guy has only been in Single A thus far, you cannot compare a guy in Single A to a Hall Of Famer.

 

Still, I am getting more and more excited about the possibilites of getting to see THE Michael Stanton as a '09 callup

 

 

 

As a 19 year old?

 

said in the article he could become a September callup

 

Edit: Cabrera was 20 when he got called up in June btw

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Dave Winfield comparison?

 

This writer is getting Waaaaaayyyyy too carried away, this guy has only been in Single A thus far, you cannot compare a guy in Single A to a Hall Of Famer.

 

Still, I am getting more and more excited about the possibilites of getting to see THE Michael Stanton as a '09 callup

 

 

 

As a 19 year old?

 

said in the article he could become a September callup

 

Edit: Cabrera was 20 when he got called up in June btw

 

Cabrera was also in AA

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Dave Winfield comparison?

 

This writer is getting Waaaaaayyyyy too carried away, this guy has only been in Single A thus far, you cannot compare a guy in Single A to a Hall Of Famer.

 

Still, I am getting more and more excited about the possibilites of getting to see THE Michael Stanton as a '09 callup

 

 

 

As a 19 year old?

 

said in the article he could become a September callup

 

Edit: Cabrera was 20 when he got called up in June btw

 

Cabrera was also in AA

 

 

and If Stanton shows that he is still putting up monster #'s in Single A after the first 2 months, you call him up to AA, and you see what he does from their

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Dave Winfield comparison?

 

This writer is getting Waaaaaayyyyy too carried away, this guy has only been in Single A thus far, you cannot compare a guy in Single A to a Hall Of Famer.

 

Still, I am getting more and more excited about the possibilites of getting to see THE Michael Stanton as a '09 callup

 

 

 

As a 19 year old?

 

said in the article he could become a September callup

 

Edit: Cabrera was 20 when he got called up in June btw

 

Cabrera was also in AA

 

Cabrera started that year in single-A, quickly moved up to double-A, and still got very little time there before being called up. Stanton will also be starting next year in high-A ball, and will most likely move up to double-A if he shows signs of the same dominance he had last year.

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I know I may sound crazy in this comparison, but doesn't that stance and physique look a lot like Ryan Braun?

 

Honestly, it reminds me of this guys a little more:

 

 

 

Pujols obviously crouches down lower but hey both have the long and HUGE arms with a wide stance, Stanton just needs to fill out a little more in the lower half; which by looking at him you can tell that won't be a problem.

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Dave Winfield comparison?

 

This writer is getting Waaaaaayyyyy too carried away, this guy has only been in Single A thus far, you cannot compare a guy in Single A to a Hall Of Famer.

 

Still, I am getting more and more excited about the possibilites of getting to see THE Michael Stanton as a '09 callup

 

 

 

As a 19 year old?

 

said in the article he could become a September callup

 

Edit: Cabrera was 20 when he got called up in June btw

 

Cabrera was also in AA

 

Cabrera started that year in single-A, quickly moved up to double-A, and still got very little time there before being called up. Stanton will also be starting next year in high-A ball, and will most likely move up to double-A if he shows signs of the same dominance he had last year.

 

 

Incorrect. Cabrera spent all of 2002 in Jupiter, followed by a stint in Carolina in 2003 before his callup to the majors.

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Incorrect. Cabrera spent all of 2002 in Jupiter, followed by a stint in Carolina in 2003 before his callup to the majors.

 

 

I also think Venezuelan baseball >>>>>> American High School baseball, which is why you see a lot of guys from latin america come over to the states and do so well at a young age in the minors; they are much more advanced.

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Incorrect. Cabrera spent all of 2002 in Jupiter, followed by a stint in Carolina in 2003 before his callup to the majors.

 

I am almost positive Cabrera had spent a very short time in Jupiter in '03, where he was hitting over .400 and moved up to Carolina, where he was hitting somehwere in the .350-.380 range until moving up?

 

Link?

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Incorrect. Cabrera spent all of 2002 in Jupiter, followed by a stint in Carolina in 2003 before his callup to the majors.

 

I am almost positive Cabrera had spent a very short time in Jupiter in '03, where he was hitting over .400 and moved up to Carolina, where he was hitting somehwere in the .350-.380 range until moving up?

 

Link?

 

 

http://minors.baseball-reference.com/players.cgi?pid=2105

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Incorrect. Cabrera spent all of 2002 in Jupiter, followed by a stint in Carolina in 2003 before his callup to the majors.

 

I am almost positive Cabrera had spent a very short time in Jupiter in '03, where he was hitting over .400 and moved up to Carolina, where he was hitting somehwere in the .350-.380 range until moving up?

 

Link?

 

 

http://minors.baseball-reference.com/players.cgi?pid=2105

 

My mistake. He must have been hitting over .400 early in the AA season, and finished at .365 when we moved him up.

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He does look like he can be a superstar. The dude is just a freak. And who cares about his 153 Strikeouts. He posted a .381 OBP. Beast!

I actually care a lot about that, as scouts say he has swing defects which led to many of the strikeouts. I hope he isn't cocky and rejects coaching just because he had one of the best A seasons of the last decade. That's the scary part. He hit 39 HR at 18 year olds, without pure swing mechanics. He can get a lot better if he wants it. Can't wait to see how Jupiter effects him.

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Dave Winfield comparison?

 

This writer is getting Waaaaaayyyyy too carried away, this guy has only been in Single A thus far, you cannot compare a guy in Single A to a Hall Of Famer.

 

Still, I am getting more and more excited about the possibilites of getting to see THE Michael Stanton as a '09 callup

 

 

 

As a 19 year old?

 

said in the article he could become a September callup

 

Edit: Cabrera was 20 when he got called up in June btw

 

Cabrera was also in AA

 

and hadn't Cabrera been a professional since he was 16 ?

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He does look like he can be a superstar. The dude is just a freak. And who cares about his 153 Strikeouts. He posted a .381 OBP. Beast!

I actually care a lot about that, as scouts say he has swing defects which led to many of the strikeouts. I hope he isn't cocky and rejects coaching just because he had one of the best A seasons of the last decade. That's the scary part. He hit 39 HR at 18 year olds, without pure swing mechanics. He can get a lot better if he wants it. Can't wait to see how Jupiter effects him.

 

It may not count for much, but I mean, his work ethic seems to be highly praised

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I know I may sound crazy in this comparison, but doesn't that stance and physique look a lot like Ryan Braun?

 

Honestly, it reminds me of this guys a little more:

 

 

 

Pujols obviously crouches down lower but hey both have the long and HUGE arms with a wide stance, Stanton just needs to fill out a little more in the lower half; which by looking at him you can tell that won't be a problem.

Hopefully Stanton doesn't struggle with male pattern baldness at an early age.

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I know I may sound crazy in this comparison, but doesn't that stance and physique look a lot like Ryan Braun?

 

Honestly, it reminds me of this guys a little more:

 

 

 

Pujols obviously crouches down lower but hey both have the long and HUGE arms with a wide stance, Stanton just needs to fill out a little more in the lower half; which by looking at him you can tell that won't be a problem.

Hopefully Stanton doesn't struggle with male pattern baldness at an early age.

 

 

:blink:

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