Closing Time: Mike Stanton blasts 500-foot HR, awaits call

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While the Florida Marlins' outfield was busy going 3-for-12 in a loss to the Giants, the organization's top prospect again played home run derby at Double-A.

Mike Stanton hit his 14th bomb of the season on Thursday, and this one may have been the most impressive shot so far. Here are the details, via MiLB.com:

Stanton, amid weeks of speculation surrounding a potential promotion from Double-A, hit a home run that reportedly traveled an estimated 500 feet on Thursday night, clearing the top of the scoreboard in Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.

The 20-year-old Stanton, batting with a man on in the sixth inning, hit a 1-1 offering from Biscuits reliever Dane De La Rosa over the scoreboard in center, which sits over 400 feet away from home plate in Montgomery.

Stanton finished 2-for-5 in Jacksonville's win, adding a double to the scorecard (his eighth of the season). He's now hitting .340 after 100 at-bats. He began the day leading all minor league players in homers, RBIs and slugging percentage; he'll exit the day with those leads intact. No one, anywhere, is having a better year than Stanton — not just in baseball, but in any line of work.

Meanwhile, Florida's major league outfielders have combined to hit four home runs this season. Stanton is only 20, and of course very few players excel at the major league level at that age. When he makes the jump to Florida — and that seems increasingly likely to happen by early June — he's obviously not going to keep up the every-other-day homer pace. He's notoriously strikeout-prone, too, so the .300-plus average hardly seems sustainable.

But there's simply no keeping the kid in Double-A, because … well, for one thing, it's not fair to the pitchers. Dane De La Rosa doesn't need to see that dude ever again. Also, Stanton clearly needs a new challenge, and the Marlins need the help.

And with that, we bullet the day's events…

There are trust issues with Manuel Corpas(notes), no question, but he's currently sporting a 1.66 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. He's also punched out 16 batters in 21.2 innings, and he's clearly impressed his manager. Check the comments from Jim Tracy in the Denver Post following Wednesday's win:

With only Joe Beimel(notes) left, Corpas remained in the game, his training as the longman in April proving invaluable. He worked a scoreless 11th and 12th to salvage the victory.

Tracy wouldn't say whether Corpas is the new closer, but all signs point toward that decision.

"You can ask me more about the closer's situation (Friday). But I will say this, we need to throw strikes," Tracy said. "Obviously I rolled the dice. All Manny did was pound the strike zone."

Do what is necessary. Huston Street(notes) (shoulder) should begin a rehab assignment next week, so Corpas may not have a closing gig for long, if he has it at all.

Entering this season, Washington left-hander Scott Olsen(notes) was so far off my fantasy radar that he might as well have been a C-List NASCAR driver. He posted lousy ratios in 2009 before shoulder surgery ended his season, then lost the Nats' fifth starter battle this spring. But Olsen was outstanding against Atlanta on Thursday night, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning before allowing a one-out single to David Ross(notes). He ultimately didn't get a decision in Washington's 3-2 win, because Tyler Clippard(notes) allowed a pair of inherited runners to score on a Jason Heyward(notes) pinch-hit single. That snapped a streak of 20 scoreless frames for Olsen. His fastball velocity was in the 89-92 range, which is excellent by his recent standards.

Still, the Braves were in no mood to offer praise following the game

As impressed as the Nationals were with Olsen’s outing—which included eight strikeouts—the Braves sounded somewhat less blown away.

“He’s got pretty good stuff but, let’s be honest here: I don’t think he’s got no-hit stuff,” said Atlanta starter Tim Hudson(notes).

[…]

Asked about Matt Diaz(notes) striking out three times looking, Braves manager Bobby Cox said: “He got called out on some bad pitches.”

Have I actually added Olsen anywhere following Thursday's performance? No. He's now solidly at the level of the A-List drivers, though.

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Heyward left Wednesday night's game against the Nats with a sore right groin, so he was out of Atlanta's starting lineup on Thursday. There's clearly no need to panic here, since he was still available to pinch-hit (clutchly. He's now 11-for-21 with runners in scoring position). Heyward is not expected to miss much time due to the injury.

This from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

“When I got back to my position [on Wednesday] it just felt sore,” Heyward said. “No pop, no strain, nothing like that. No sharp pain, no ache. Almost like a bruise on a muscle. … I waited around a while to see if it would go away or settle down and it didn’t.”

Heyward may rest for a day or two, or possibly three. This is not a DL event, however.

With lefty Brian Burres(notes) on the mound for Pittsburgh, Geovany Soto(notes) and his 1.020 OPS were bumped up all the way to seventh in the Cubs' lineup! Entering the night, Soto had hit eighth in 18 of 22 games; not surprisingly, he's on pace to draw 116 walks. He took another free pass on Thursday and went 2-for-3, raising his average to .338.

Alas, the small batting order tweak didn't make a significant difference for the Cubs, because Randy Wells(notes) was rocked by the Bucs. He walked the first two hitters he faced, then allowed a pair of singles and a pair of doubles. All the fantasy-relevant Pirates were involved in the early scoring (McCutchen, Jones, Doumit, Milledge). Wells gave up two more runs in the second frame (more Jones) and was replaced in the third by Jeff Gray(notes). He was hammered, too (McCutchen, Milledge).

The highlight of the game — and possibly the night — was Lastings Milledge(notes) going into a home run trot on a fourth inning double. A surprised Milledge was tagged out between second and third. (Video here). In fairness to the player, the ball hit near the top of the wall in left, fooling both the broadcasters and the stadium fireworks operator. Here's Milledge:

"I think that was the most exciting double in PNC Park history," Milledge said sheepishly. "It was my fault, and I didn't look at the ball. I was running hard, making sure that I had a double, and I looked up and all the fireworks were going off and I had a lapse for a second."

In a win, it's all good.

Aramis Ramirez(notes) went 0-for-4 for the Cubs, dropping his average to .148. I suppose he should be presented here as a buy-low candidate, because slow starts are nothing new for him. April is traditionally his worst month. So please make me an offer.

Note the ugliness from Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) in the opening frame against the Angels:

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He was less bad thereafter, allowing just one earned run over the next 4.1 innings. We trust that none of you were affected by the mess above; there's no obvious reason to get mixed up with Daisuke right now, not after the Orioles tagged him for seven runs in his 2010 debut.

Nate Schierholtz(notes) filled the fantasy box score in San Francisco's win over Florida: 3-for-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, SB. He raised his average to an insane .381. Schierholtz's power/speed combination isn't really extraordinary, but there's no arguing with the recent production.

Here's the way Michael Young(notes) described the playing conditions in Texas: "It was one of those crazy games where the wind was kind of blowing out and it was a good day to hit." The Rangers and Royals combined for 25 runs, so yeah. Seems like a good hittin' day. Josh Hamilton(notes) and Vladimir Guerrero(notes) greeted KC closer Joakim Soria(notes) with the game-tying and game-winning homers in the eighth inning. Hamilton's shot will never, ever land. (Video here). Vlad's opposite-field blast was caught in the Texas bullpen by Neftali Feliz(notes), who soon came on to earn the save in a clean ninth inning.

Other notables from the Arlington fantasy buffet: Justin Smoak(notes) hit a three-run homer to extend his hitting streak to six games; Kila Ka'aihue(notes) had a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth; Scott Podsednik(notes) went 2-for-4 with a homer and two steals; Julio Borbon(notes) went 0-for-4, as you probably assumed.

Giants catching prospect Buster Posey(notes) went 4-for-5 on Thursday for Triple-A Fresno, and three of the hits went for extra-bases. (You'll recall that quality-of-contact was a concern expressed by some). Posey is currently hitting .343 with an OPS of .961; the call-up isn't far off.

Thursday afternoon's match-up between Roy Halladay(notes) and Kyle Lohse(notes) went exactly the way any reasonable person would have predicted: The Phillies won, 7-2. Halladay struck out nine Cardinals over seven innings. He was so good that not even David Freese(notes) could get a hit (thanks to a scoring change).

Here's Dustin Pedroia's(notes) reaction to rumors of a bomb threat at Fenway Park on Wednesday, via the Projo Sox Blog:

Upon hearing about the bomb scare, Dustin Pedroia strode into the middle of the clubhouse and barked, "Bomb squad? Bomb squad? They're early!" and flexed his muscles in anticipation of all the 'bombs' he would hit later.

Police later said that the scare was unfounded, and that there was no danger.

Pedroia went 2-for-3, but sadly no homers. That would have made for an excellent called-shot story.

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Drew Stubbs(notes) has been an 0-for-4 machine so far this season, and manager Dusty Baker has finally seen enough of him in the leadoff spot. "With Stubbs struggling, we’re going to have to rethink things," said Baker.

The Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay speculates that Brandon Phillips(notes) (.313 career OBP) is the favorite to take over atop the lineup. Orlando Cabrera(notes) seems like a threat, too, despite the fact that he has an on-base percentage of just .292 this year and a career mark of .321. We all know about Dusty's anti-clogging stance. Fay also pegged recent call-up Chris Heisey(notes) as a leadoff option. He was hitting .241/.307/.430 at Triple-A before arriving in Cincy, with 23 Ks and seven walks in 89 plate appearances. But he has modest speed (21 steals in '09, 27 in '08), which his new manager no doubt appreciates.

It isn't really a surprise to see Jarrod Saltalamacchia(notes) raking in the high minors. His ability to hit is well-documented. Entering Thursday, he was hitting .378/.420/.667 at Oklahoma City with three home runs and four doubles. But Saltalamacchia won't return to the majors when eligible, because "the Rangers want to give him more time to work on a change to his throwing mechanics," according to the Dallas Morning News. Again, no surprise. Injuries and defense have been the issues.

The White Sox were lifeless on Thursday and Dana Eveland(notes) took advantage, allowing only two hits (but four walks) over seven innings. Travis Snider(notes) continued his recent surge, going 2-for-2. Here's Gordon Beckham(notes) following an 0-for-4, three-K, two-error performance:

“I’m so frustrated with the way that I’m playing that it’s gotten into my head mentally and it’s causing my body to look like I don’t want to be out there and that’s not me,” Beckham said.

The Baltimore Orioles have but one roadmap to victory, and they used it on Thursday: Ty Wigginton(notes) handles the run production (2-for-4, HR), Alfredo Simon(notes) gets the save. It's worth noting the Koji Uehara(notes) returned from the DL and immediately handled the eighth inning for the O's.

If we tell you that LaTroy Hawkins(notes) was facing Andre Ethier(notes) in the ninth inning of a tie game with the bases loaded, you can guess how that ended, right? OK, good. Details here.

This note really has no short-term fantasy relevance whatsoever, but it gives you a name to file away for later use: Texas prep pitcher Jameson Taillon is the consensus No. 2 talent in the 2010 MLB Draft, per Baseball America's Jim Callis. Here's the money quote: "[Taillon] has it all: size (6-foot-6, 225 pounds), an explosive fastball clocked as high as 99 mph and an equally devastating curveball." Bryce Harper remains everyone's No. 1, of course, and the Nats are expected to select him with the top overall pick. The Pirates have the second selection, and they've been known to pass on right-handers with explosive fastballs; Rivals says the Bucs will look to the college ranks.

Everybody hurts: Manny Ramirez(notes) (calf) is expected to return to the Dodgers' lineup on Saturday. "He'll play left field tomorrow [at Lake Elsinore] and we'll give him Friday off and he'll be ready for us Saturday," said manager Joe Torre. … Kurt Suzuki(notes) (intercostal strain) will come off the DL on either Sunday or Tuesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. … Joe Mauer(notes) won't commit to a return date just yet, but he took early batting practice on Thursday, which is clearly a good sign. … Paul Konerko(notes) was scratched from the White Sox lineup on Thursday because of a sore neck, but Ozzie Guillen indicated that he should be good to go on Friday. Link to tweet. … Edgar Renteria(notes) returned to the Giants' lineup, but he couldn't make it through the third inning. Renteria apparently aggravated his groin injury. The DL awaits. … Carlos Gomez(notes) has an MRI on his left shoulder scheduled for Friday; it sounds like he'll be of no use to anyone for a few days.

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Here's a link to Robin Roberts' marvelous career totals, for those who aren't terribly aware of baseball stats from the pre-fantasy era. Check out the four-season stretch that Roberts put together between 1952 and 1955; he led the league in wins, complete games and innings-pitched every year. And take note of the Phillies' actual W/L records in each of those seasons. There were several nice tributes in Philadelphia on Thursday for an all-time great.

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Photos via AP Images (Heyward) and Getty Images (Stanton, Moyer)

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