Stanton standing tall in Double-A
Marlins in no rush to bring outfielder to big leagues
CHICAGO -- A major reason why Mike Stanton opened the season with the Jacksonville Suns is because the organization wanted him to accomplish hitting against Double-A pitching.
Without question, the 20-year-old slugger is doing that. The major question confronting the franchise now is when to promote him to the big leagues?
Stanton is making a statement that he is either ready now or very soon. In his first 100 at-bats at Jacksonville, the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is batting .340, and he's belted 14 home runs and knocked in 31 runs.
Stanton's astounding success has raised speculation about where he will wind up next? According to an MLB source, the power-hitting outfielder will remain just where he is -- at least until late May or early June.
The source noted it is unlikely Stanton will be promoted to Triple-A New Orleans. When he moves up, it will likely be the big leagues.
"He is comfortable where he is, and most likely he will go from Double-A directly to the big leagues," the source said.
A few days ago in Washington, team owner Jeffrey Loria confirmed the organization was considering a leap to Triple-A. The owner added that there is no immediate timetable to promote Stanton to the big leagues.
"When he's ready, he will be here," Loria told reporters. "The baseball people will decide. When he comes here, we don't want him to fail. He will probably be here this summer."
Even though the Marlins have been struggling at the plate lately, the organization still is leaning against bringing Stanton up before the end of May or early June.
There are some business reasons for waiting until that time line, or after a player no longer qualifies as a Super Two in the arbitration process.
Already this season, a few other teams have promoted their top prospects. Starlin Castro was just brought up from Double-A Tennessee to the Cubs. Earlier, the Mets called up first baseman Ike Davis.
The Braves opened this season with 20-year-old Jason Heyward in right field. Heyward and Stanton were both part of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
As impressive as Stanton has been, he still has just 399 at-bats at the Double-A level, when you count his 299 in 2009.
As Stanton gains more seasoning, the Marlins also are monitoring what to do in the outfield over these next few weeks. Cameron Maybin has been struggling, and Bryan Petersen recently was called up from Triple-A. He is getting a look.
Chris Coghlan had his first three-hit game of the season on Sunday at Washington, raising his average to .206. Coghlan is looking for consistency. And Brett Carroll, the best defensive young outfielder of the group, has been taking advantage of his opportunities.
When Stanton does arrive, it will be a matter of which spot he will fill. He is playing right field at Jacksonville. But depending on where he fits, he could play left field.
Adding Stanton to the lineup would certainly bring another force to the order. The way Florida's lineup is set up, Stanton could start off batting sixth, behind Dan Uggla.
Stanton continues to make a strong case that he is big league ready. If he keeps doing what he's been doing, it will be tough to keep him in Double-A.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.