Mike Stanton was a three-sport star at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. An excellent prep baseball, basketball and football player, Stanton signed a letter of intent to play outfield at the University of Southern California, but was athletic enough to play mid-major college football as well.
An All-Southern Section, he led the Notre Dame football team to an 11-1 finish in 2006, emerging as one of the premier defensive backs in the greater Los Angeles area during his senior year. The 18-year-old then carried his success to the hardwood, where he averaged just under 20 points for his basketball team and again earned all-conference honors.
Coming from a school that produced former Cy Young winner Jack McDowell and has sent several student-athletes to top-notch Division I athletic programs, it is hard to stand out. But that is exactly what Stanton did during the spring, when he turned his attention to his strongest sport, baseball.
He showed off his tremendous power potential on a nightly basis, hitting skyscraper home runs with a wood bat while taking individual batting practice in front of numerous scouts. Labeled a five-tool prospect by many of the talent evaluators who came to see him play, he also showed off his tremendous speed while showing excellent baseball instincts.
The Florida Marlins took notice.
Florida selected Stanton in the second round, 76th overall, to add an impact athlete and hitter into its improving farm system. After signing and foregoing the opportunity to play baseball in the Pac-10, the speedy center fielder reported to the Gulf Coast League. He hit .269/.321/.346 in only 26 at-bats for the GCL Marlins, and then spent two weeks in the New York Penn League. His debut was short and sweet-he did not receive enough plate appearances to make a real impact-but he got his feet wet in the professional ranks.
Following his brief debut, Stanton was named as the best athlete in the Marlins’ organization by Baseball America. Listed as the ninth-best prospect in the Florida system by the publication headed into the season, management had high hopes for him going into his first real professional season.
Starting in center for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, he has not disappointed. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound slugger is batting .275/.352/.576 and is leading the Sally League with 27 home runs. He ranks third on the circuit with a .928 OPS as well. However, he is also leading the league with 120 strikeouts, and his on-base skills leave a bit to be desired at this point. Still, he has been nothing but impressive for Greensboro.
Stanton, whose name has surfaced in a potential Manny Ramirez trade that would send him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-team swap, is the real deal. He has a chance to develop into a truly great player if he can cut down his strikeouts and improve his plate discipline. Keep an eye on and look for him rise up prospect lists, as his level of production does not often go unnoticed.
It will be interesting to see if he gets shipped before the 4:00 deadline this afternoon.