Another star on Florida's horizon

Seven years ago, the Florida Marlins promoted a 20-year-old from Triple-A, believing that he could help the big league team make a playoff push -- and that's exactly what Miguel Cabrera did.

And sometime soon, the Marlins will make a similar move with another young slugger.

Florida has seen suitable improvement in Mike Stanton's command of the strike zone and ability to lay off pitches out of the strike zone, and Stanton is destroying pitching in Double-A.

His numbers:

Batting average: .347

On-base percentage: .490

Homers: 10

OPS: 1.317

Walks/Strikeouts: 20/21, in 75 at-bats

When Stanton reaches the big leagues soon, there will be growing pains, as there has been with Jason Heyward. There will be days when he is overmatched, when he might strike out three or four times. But he is the kind of talent who can impact a pennant race, as Cabrera did, and he will be in the Marlins' lineup in the weeks ahead.

And remember the what-could-have-been conversation that we'll have for years. As the Braves went into the 2007 draft, they felt good about their chances to get Heyward, and had concern about only one team pre-empting them -- the Florida Marlins.

The Marlins did not take Heyward, but in the second round, they snagged Stanton, leaving us to talk about how an outfield of Heyward and Stanton might have looked.

• Speaking of star prospects: Tanner Scheppers continues to dominate Double-A, on his march toward the majors (and presumably, he will impact the Texas Rangers' bullpen in middle relief sometime this summer). Scheppers' numbers so far:

Innings: 11

Runs: 1

Hits: 3

Walks: 0

Strikeouts: 19

• And another prospect on the rise: Carlos Santana's promotion to the big leagues will probably happen soon, at a time that Lou Marson is struggling.

Paul Konerko mashed his ninth and 10th homers of the season, and afterward, Ozzie Guillen said that Konerko has been carrying the White Sox. The following numbers bear out that statement. The players with the highest percentage of their team's home runs:

1. Nelson Cruz: .412 (7/17)

2. Jason Heyward: .385 (5/13)

3. Paul Konerko: .345 (10/29)

The players who have generated the highest percentage of their team's RBI:

1. Miguel Cabrera: .250 (25/100)

2. Paul Konerko: .228 (18/79)

3. Jason Heyward: .227 (17/75)

• The Rays went into the start of their four-game series against the Royals with a plus-59 run differential, and then they thumped Kansas City 11-1 to open what could be a brutally one-sided weekend, given K.C.'s bullpen issues. After the game, Carl Crawford -- who is on pace to have your basic 200-hit, 120-run,100-RBI season as he heads into free agency -- called into "Baseball Tonight" and said that the Rays players talk about being like the Phoenix Suns, in that they just want to keep running.
The Rays are a very tough team to play right now, said Royals manager Trey Hillman, Marc Topkin writes.

A note from Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information: "The Rays are 17-5. They are the 22nd team in the divisional era (since 1969) to start 17-5 or better in their first 22 games, the first since the 2003 Giants, Royals and Yankees. Of the previous 21, 14 won a division title (no wild cards), nine made the World Series, and three won the World Series (the 1984 Tigers, 1986 Mets and 1990 Reds)."

Matt Garza wrapped up a stellar month, Roger Mooney writes.

Why Garza won, from Andrew Davis of ESPN Stats & Information:

  • He dominated with his non-fastballs. Royals hitters were 0-for-9 against non-heaters, continuing Garza's season-long trend. The Tampa righty has held the opposition to a .116 batting average (5-for-43) against non-fastballs so far in 2010.

  • The Royals couldn't lay off his off-speed stuff -- their chase percentage on the slower stuff was 54 (league avg. 31).

  • He got ahead early: 71 percent of his first pitches were strikes (league avg. is 58).