Fantasy Baseball 2012: In Search of the Next Giancarlo Stanton

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 14: Mike Stanton #27 of the Florida Marlins celebrates a home run with teammate Mike Cameron #24 against the San Francisco Giants at Sun Life Stadium on August 14, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton? Who? In case you haven't heard, Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton now wants to go by his real first name, Giancarlo. For real. No really. Stanton is known for his power. He is just 22 years old and already has 56 home runs in his major league career, and I would not be surprised if he ends the 2012 season with right around 100 career home runs. That would mean 44 home runs from him this season, and I think he can do it. How the new Marlins ballpark plays will factor into the number of long balls he hits this season, along with his continued improvement in his plate discipline.

So, today, I want to take a look at 3 hitters who could be the next Giancarlo Stanton. Unlike my Craig Kimbrel piece, I will look at one player who had a cup of coffee in 2011, and two hitters who have zero major league experience, although one of them will be up in 2012.

My thoughts on the 3 hitting prospects who could be the next Giancarlo Stanton after the jump. The names will be pretty obvious, but I think it will be a fun exercise.

When he was still a prospect, Stanton was given the 80 power grade early in his minor league career. There are currently a few hitting prospects with the 80 power grade, lead by Nationals outfield prospect Bryce Harper. Then there is Twins corner infielder Miguel Sano who is one huge guy. The third candidate is a young hitter who was traded this offseason-Jesus Montero.

Miguel Sano, MIN

Sano played third base for the majority of his games played in the Appalachian rookie league, but at 6'3", 230 lbs, he probably won't be long for third base, and should head across the diamond or to an outfield corner in due time. He has grade 80 power according to some prospect experts, and Keith Law projects him to be a 35+ home run hitter when he makes it to the big leagues.

Here are his career minor league stats, courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Year Age Lg Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 17 2 Lgs Rk-FRk 61 212 34 65 16 1 7 29 4 3 24 60 .307 .379 .491 .870 104
2010 17 DOSL FRk 20 64 11 22 2 1 3 10 2 1 14 17 .344 .463 .547 1.009 35
2010 17 GULF Rk 41 148 23 43 14 0 4 19 2 2 10 43 .291 .338 .466 .804 69
2011 18 APPY Rk 66 267 58 78 18 7 20 59 5 4 23 77 .292 .352 .637 .988 170
2 Seasons 127 479 92 143 34 8 27 88 9 7 47 137 .299 .364 .572 .936 274
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/29/2012.

Sano had a solid 2011 in the Appalachian league, hitting .292-.352-.637 with 45 extra base hits in 66 games. He was second in the Appy league in home runs, behind teammate Eddie Rosario who hit 21, and third in RBI, behind Rosario and Blue Jays prospect Art Charles. Sano needs to improve his plate discipline as he struck out in almost 29% of his at bats, while walking in just 8% of his at bats.

Here is what John had to say about him in his 2012 Baseball Prospect Book:

While he may have some growing pains, I’m not worried about his bat and expect he will become a very potent hitter in the majors. On defense, Sano split the year between shortstop and third base, but the hot corner is his long-term destination. He has the arm strength and athleticism to handle the position, but is still ironing out his footwork and throwing. Sano doesn’t turn 19 until May, and while he needs more refinement, he has the markers of a future star. Grade B+.

The Twins call Target Field home, and while it plays likes a pitchers park, it sounds like the park isn't big enough to hold back Sano's power potential. He will need at least 4 more years in the minors before he reaches the majors, but if his plate discipline should improve, Sano could force the issue before he turns 22 years of age.

Bryce Harper, WAS

There isn't much more one can say about Harper that hasn't been said before. What I will say is, Harper has his sights on making the Nationals 25 man roster out of spring training, and he has the backing of manager Davey Johnson. Johnson is well known for calling up a 19 year old Dwight Gooden when he was managing the Mets, so it wouldn't be the first time he promotes a prospect before he reaches his 20th birthday.

Here are his 2011 minor league stats, courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Year Age Lg Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 18 2 Lgs A-AA 109 452 387 63 115 24 2 17 58 26 7 59 87 .297 .392 .501 .894 194
2011 18 SALL A 72 305 258 49 82 17 1 14 46 19 5 44 61 .318 .423 .554 .977 143
2011 18 EL AA 37 147 129 14 33 7 1 3 12 7 2 15 26 .256 .329 .395 .724 51
1 Season 109 452 387 63 115 24 2 17 58 26 7 59 87 .297 .392 .501 .894 194
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/29/2012.

Is Harper ready for big league pitching? We will see how he fares in spring training, as he will probably get 55-65 at bats in spring training, maybe more. He will get a long look this spring and I see the Nationals waiting till the last possible moment to make the decision. Harper will have to have a very good spring to make the 25 man roster, and if he doesn't, I am sure he will have an early call up this spring. Some are projecting late April or early May. Either way, Harper will become one of the more prolific home run hitters in his first few years in the big leagues.

Here is what John wrote about him in the 2012 Baseball Prospect Book:

He has the best raw power in the minors, and he has the swing to unleash it. He controls the strike zone remarkably well for a young power hitter. Having seen him in person more than once now, I’m impressed with the way he makes adjustments, as he adapts to what the pitcher is doing more quickly than most major leaguers, let alone minor league prospects. His batting averages will be respectable, at a minimum, and his OBPs will be very high once he settles in. Harper is "intense" and plays with enough aggression and arrogance to annoy his opponents, but the same can be said for many superstars. He backs it up with his performance, and he works very hard. He’s going to be outstanding. Grade A.

Harper was recently interviewed on the MLB channel and he said something that really impressed me. He said he has worked on hitting for power to the opposite field because you don't hit .300 pulling the ball all the time. He really wants to be the best player in the game, and he will be before we know it.

Jesus Montero, SEA

Montero and Hector Noesi were traded to the Seattle Mariners this offseason, in a deal that sent Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to the Yankees. Finally, the Yankees dealt their young power hitting prospect. It was just a matter of time, right? He had been rumored to be dealt to several other teams over the years, including to Seattle for Cliff Lee a few years ago, but GM Jack Zdurencik chose to deal Lee to Texas in return for Justin Smoak.

Let's take a look at his career stats, courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Year Age Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
2007 17 Rk 33 123 107 13 30 6 0 3 19 12 18 .280 .366 .421 .786 45
2008 18 A 132 569 525 86 171 34 1 17 87 37 83 .326 .376 .491 .868 258
2009 19 A+,AA 92 379 347 45 117 25 1 17 70 28 47 .337 .389 .562 .951 195
2010 20 AAA 123 504 453 66 131 34 3 21 75 46 91 .289 .353 .517 .870 234
2011 21 AAA 109 463 420 52 121 19 1 18 67 36 98 .288 .348 .467 .814 196
2011 21 AL 18 69 61 9 20 4 0 4 12 7 17 .328 .406 .590 .996 159 36
1 Yr 18 69 61 9 20 4 0 4 12 7 17 .328 .406 .590 .996 159 36
162 Game Avg. 162 621 549 81 180 36 0 36 108 63 153 .328 .406 .590 .996 159 324
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/1/2012.

Montero's strikeout rates have climbed as he has faced more advanced pitching, while his walk rate have dropped a bit. Of concern, as well, is the drop in slugging percentage as he moved up the ranks. Those who did question his bat were in awe in his September cup of coffee with the Yankees, where he triple slashed .328-.406-.590, yet in only 61 at bats.

Here is what John wrote about Montero in the 2012 Baseball Prospect Book:

What he did in his 18-game major league trial, while at the upper bounds of expectation, was not a fluke; the guy can simply mash. Montero is a born DH, but there’s nothing wrong with that if you can hit like he does. He has nothing left to prove in the minors. The Yankees traded him and Hector Noesi to the Mariners in January for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. I am very confident in his bat, obviously, giving him a Grade A even though his skills aren’t balanced.

Montero moves from a hitter's haven, Yankee Stadium, to a pitcher haven, Safeco Field in Seattle. He may not drive in a lot of runs initially, and the ballpark may depress his BA a bit, he should still hit for plenty of power. More important to fantasy owners is the fact that he should gain catcher eligibility this season, as the Mariners have indicated they will give him some looks behind the plate this season. If he can hit .275 with 18 HRs and 70 RBIs, he will be a top 5 catcher as soon as 2013.

So, who is the next Giancarlo Stanton of the 3 power hitters discussed in this article?

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