Anticipation high with Stanton arrival nearing

Anticipation high with Stanton arrival nearing

NEW YORK -- Tempering expectations will be one of Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez's biggest challenges when prospect Mike Stanton gets his first big league callup.

No exact date has been set, but speculation is it can be next week, perhaps when the Marlins are in Philadelphia beginning on Tuesday. Another scenario is he arrives at the end of the week at Tampa Bay, where he could be used as the designated hitter.

Even that is speculative, but the way Stanton is carving up Double-A, it's only a matter of time. The 20-year-old belted his 21st home run on Friday, and he was 3-for-3 with two walks. He was a double away from the cycle. He his batting .310 for the Jacksonville Suns, and he has 52 RBIs.

Gonzalez joked on Saturday that falling a double short is "the missing piece" the organization is looking for before deciding to give the slugger a promotion.

Whenever he does arrive, Gonzalez says it is his job, along with the staff and some players, to make Stanton not feel he has to save the season.

"There is a danger," Gonzalez said. "That's going to be one of my biggest jobs. Not making this guy sound like he is Roy Hobbs. Make him comfortable. Make him part of the team. It's going to be hard getting used to the big leagues as it is. One of my biggest challenges is to protect him."

The way Stanton belts home runs, he does seem like he could be the lead character in the movie, "The Natural." While Hobbs hit a home run that knocked the lights out in the stadium on the movie screen, Stanton is hitting 480-foot home runs in the Minor Leagues.

Stanton has 21 homers in 187 at-bats, which is one on average of every 8.9 at-bat. In his Minor league career, he has 61 homers in 711 at-bats, which is an 11.7 clip.

To help gauge how to handle a 20-year-old sensation, Gonzalez has spoken briefly with his close friend and mentor, Braves manager Bobby Cox, about Jason Heyward.

Heyward, the 20-year-old sensation, is already a National League Rookie of the Year frontrunner.

"I talked to Bobby about Heyward, and he told me that Heyward is a special young man," Gonzalez said. "Stanton is that same type of mentality. The maturity there is way above 20 years old."