There are a lot of power hitters in the minor leagues, but there aren’t many prospects like Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton.
Stanton can pull any fastball out of the park, but with his strength and ability to keep the barrel in the hitting zone for a long time, he can get caught out front or catch balls deep in the zone and drive them over the opposite-field wall, something he did eight times this year.
Several managers who faced Stanton this year recalled seemingly routine line drives he hit that appeared to have an extra gear on them as they traveled off the wall or even over the fence. Along with Stanton’s obvious physical gifts, Stanton receives praise from talent evaluators throughout the industry for his dedication to working on all facets of his game and ability to make adjustments.
“He has gotten better in all areas,” Double-A Jacksonville manager Brandon Hyde said. “His pitch selection improved, his baserunning improved, his defense has improved. Pitchers are real careful with him—he doesn’t get much on the white part of the plate.”
Stanton hit .294/.390/.578 in 50 games with high Class A Jupiter, then went on to bat .231/.311/.455 in 79 games with Jacksonville, combining for 28 homers along the way. And the praise from scouts around the Florida State League and the Southern League has been glowing.
“He’s going to be a franchise player,” said an American League scout. “I think he has a chance to be a five-tool guy who hits 40 home runs in the big leagues.”
It’s 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale, a rarity for any player, even moreso for a 19-year-old. And there are few players with 80 power who can match Stanton’s athletic ability. Even at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, he has a tick above-average speed
“He’s a unique, unique player,” said another AL scout. “He gets outstanding leverage in his swing and he’s strong, but it’s the kind of strong we like as scouts. He’s not some bound-up guy—he’s loose and flexible.”
Then again, there’s also the 144 strikeouts in 129 games. We’ve already documented the strides Stanton made in reducing his strikeout rate prior to his promotion to Double-A, but he swung and missed more often in Jacksonville with 99 strikeouts in 341 trips to the plate, or 29 percent of his PAs.
Cause for concern? Not really, according to several scouts.
While many young power hitters have swings with more holes than a bowl of Froot Loops, scouts mainly attribute Stanton’s increased Double-A whiffs to youth and inexperience rather than anything mechanical.
“The everyday consistent contact while I was there was lacking, but he’s a 19-year-old in Double-A,” said a third scout. “That’s going to come with experience.”
“There were no issues I saw with the swing,” said the first scout. “It’s more his approach. That’s going to take some time for him to make that adjustment, but it’s more mental approach than anything with the swing.”
Stanton finished tied for 11th in the minors in home runs, finishing behind a group mostly comprised of minor league veterans and hitters taking advantage of the cozy California League. When it all finally comes together for Stanton, some scouts see a player who could eventually capture a major league home run crown.
"I think he can be a frontline, middle-of-the-order guy," added a National League scout. "Every time I see him all he does is drive the ball. He hits them to all fields and he approaches the game with a lot of maturity. He’s just a tooled-out guy."
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