Friday, June 11, 2010

Off to the Big Leagues

Mike Stanton left the friendly confines of The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville to head up to the big leagues, and a starting outfield job with the Florida Marlins last weekend, and pitchers who toil daily in the Southern League couldn't be happier.

 The Jacksonville Suns right fielder was terrorizing pitchers in the S.L. this year, including a league leading 21 home runs, 52 RBIs. a slugging percentage of .726, and 138 total just 52 games.

Since I arrived in Jacksonville, I've witnessed a lot of great ball players go on to the majors from the Suns, including Andres Galaragga, Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, Juan Encarnacion, Gabe Kapler, Shane Victorino, Matt Kemp, and James Loney, but Stanton just might be the best power hitter who ever laced up a pair of cleats for the Suns in 30 years...not the best ever, that would be Henry Aaron, who played here in 1952 for the then Jacksonville Braves of the South Atlantic League, but certainly the best of any Suns player I've had the pleasure to follow.

Amongst all the publicity of the big league debut of the Washington Nationals pitching phenom Steven Strasburg, who was everything the Nats wanted, and more, the Marlins call-up of Stanton was put on the back of the sports pages, but that's just what the Marlins, and Stanton wanted, just get the kid up here and let hem play.

This kid will hit in the big leagues, and the Marlins were wise to let Stanton start the year in the Suns outfield while he honed his skills, being careful not to rush the young man to fast. 

Stanton didn't disappoint, crushing Southern League pitchers every night, and filling the stands at the Baseball Grounds with baseball fans of all ages making sure they get a look at a big league ball player in the making.

If your reading the list and you live here in Jacksonville, I hope you made it out to see a Suns game before Stanton was called up, but, in case you missed him, I suggest you find the Marlins schedule and go to a game...maybe this weekend when they play the Rays in St. Pete, or find a way down to Miami, however you get there, just get there, because this kid can play.

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