Marlins close to calling up 20-year-old slugging phenom Mike Stanton

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While the baseball world tries to pin down Stephen Strasburg’s debut, another elite prospect could be on the verge of the majors. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Marlins may call up 20-year-old outfielder Mike Stanton as soon as June 5.
Picked in the second round of the 2007 draft out of high school, Stanton has emerged as perhaps baseball’s premier power-hitting prospect. Stanton blasted 67 homers in his first two pro seasons, which led all minor leaguers in 2008 and 2009, and has been on fire at Double-A this season with 17 homers and 44 RBIs in 43 games.
Better yet he’s hitting .306 after coming into the season with a .267 career batting average and is walking far more than ever before while cutting down on his strikeouts. Stanton is still six months from his 21st birthday, but hitting .306 with a .440 on-base percentage and .706 slugging percentage at Double-A has likely forced the Marlins’ to speed up his timetable.
Frisaro notes that Stanton has been playing left field recently after previously being a right fielder, which is noteworthy because the Marlins currently have the reigning Rookie of the Year in left field. However, Chris Coghlan is hitting just .218 with a .544 OPS and has the defensive versatility to get into the lineup elsewhere. Another option to make room for Stanton would be moving Cody Ross to center field and benching or demoting Cameron Maybin, who’s hitting just .234 with a .641 OPS.
Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told Frisaro that Stanton will likely begin his career batting seventh, saying: “I don’t want him feeling he’s the a savior who’s here to save the season.” Maybe not, but as soon as his service time has been sufficiently suppressed Stanton’s arrival will be shaking up the 24-24 team.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: