The Florida Marlins sent Mike Stanton down to Double-A Jacksonville on Wednesday. (No not this Mike Stanton, this Mike Stanton. You know, the guy who hit 28 home runs in 129 minor league games last season.)
Anyway, the strong, young, Marlins’ version of Mike Stanton might not be down on the farm too long, as Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez sounds eager for his star prospect to bash his way to the bigs, no matter who gets hurt along the way.
From the Miami Herald:
“We sent him down, but he’ll let us know when he’s ready,” Gonzalez said Wednesday before his team began warming up to take on the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium. “It’s just a matter of him getting some at-bats and putting up some numbers or decapitating somebody down there. Maybe the league president will say get this guy out of here before he hurts somebody.”
The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder, who is ranked No. 3 on MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospects List, hit .333 with a .407 on base and .833 slugging in 24 spring at-bats. He also hit three home runs this spring, all off Major League Pitchers (although one was a Met, and none of the pitchers were decapitated or otherwise injured).
So consider this an official notice to pitchers of the Southern League: Don’t forget to duck.
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.