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May 30, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Stanton Countdown

by Michael Jong

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With the recent call-up of Buster Posey and the imminent arrival pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg, all coinciding nicely with the June MLB draft as well, prospect fever is at its highest pitch. Teams with big needs at the big-league level are considering which players to bring up once players stay down long enough to avoid future Super-Two status. One of those teams is the Florida Marlins, and one of those highly touted propsects is Michael Stanton.

Stanton, originally drafted in 2007 in the second round by the Marlins, has evolved from a raw player to a powerhouse prospect in just two short seasons. After initially struggling in his professional debut, he rocked 39 HR in low-A ball in 2008 and followed that up with 28 combined home runs in High-A and Double-A, all before his 20th birthday. The initial struggles in Double-A in 2009 have disappeared in 2010, as Stanton is hitting .307/.442/.711 and leading the minors with 18 HR. According to BP's Davenport Translations, Stanton's line translates to a major league equivalent .269/.352/.589, good for a .306 TAv that would tie him for 39th in the majors this season.

Stanton's line has been impressive enough, especially for a 20-year old, to garner attention for a call-up. However, unlike the equally-hyped Jason Heyward, whose minor league track record was spotless, Stanton does have a major concern. For his career, Stanton has struck out in 27.1% of his PA, very similar to his DT line for 2010 (27.0%). This season, he has shown increased patience at the plate, drawing 31 unintentional walks in 200 PA; prior to 2010, he had walked in just under 10% of his PA. However, while some of that may be a result of an improved eye, a good deal of it may also be due to "intentional" unintentional walks by pitchers afraid to pitch to Stanton. Rest assured, major league pitchers will be less hesitant to throw strikes Stanton's way.

If and when Stanton is brought up, he will start, meaning either Cameron Maybin (.227 TAv) or Chris Coghlan (.203) will return to Triple-A. Maybin is the more likely to be demoted, as his struggles also involve the strikeout but do not come with Stanton's power potential. Stanton will slide into right field, with Cody Ross moving to center. In right, Stanton will have to put up better than a league average bat to compete with fellow corner outfielders fantasy-wise, but over the last three years, players with decent power who have struck out over 27% of the time have been barely above average as a group, PECOTA pegs Stanton for an optimistic .239/.321/.500 slash line, good for a .254 TAv that would be acceptable for Marlins standards, but not for fantasy owners. Home runs are Stanton's specialty, and it is likely that his power tool will translate to the majors even this season; PECOTA has Stanton hitting a very believable 14 homers in 255 PA. Do not expect much help elsewhere, however. Stanton's AVG will be low with just an average BABIP and his high strikeout totals, and his R/RBI will be deflated a bit batting at the bottom of the Marlins order.

Currently Stanton is owned in just 3% of ESPN mixed leagues. He has been on Hot Spot's Value Picks portfolio for a few weeks now, but should still be available even in deeper leagues. For NL-only leagues, he is a good option because of playing time and the off chance that his strikeouts continue to stay in the 23% range and he bats .250 to go with his lofty power.

Michael Jong is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Michael's other articles. You can contact Michael by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Michae... (05/28)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Buster P... (05/29)
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The Week in Quotes: Th... (05/31)

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