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June 4, 2014

The Call-Up

Jonathan Singleton

by Chris Rodriguez and Craig Goldstein


The Situation: Heading into yesterday’s game, Houston first basemen were hitting .181/.269/.291 as a group. With Singleton boasting a .267/.397/.544 line for Triple-A Oklahoma City and his contract extension freshly signed, the Astros summoned him to the majors to provide some pop—and in his debut, he did.

Background: The Phillies drafted Singleton in the eighth round (257th overall) of the 2009 draft, just 11 picks after fellow first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The 17-year-old Singleton got his first taste of professional ball that season in the Gulf Coast league, putting up good numbers against players more than two years older than he was. His solid debut earned him a test in the Single-A Sally League, which he passed, cementing his status on the prospect landscape.

In the summer of 2011, the Astros acquired Singleton for Hunter Pence in a five-player deal and sent him to a hitter’s haven in High-A Lancaster, where he continued his assault on older, subpar pitching. The following season brought more of the same, and Baseball Prospectus rated Singleton the game’s no. 25 prospect heading into 2013. However, that season was a rough one for Singleton, as he was suspended for 50 games for marijuana use. This was a big setback for Singleton developmentally, and it raised concerns about his focus on the field—not so because he’d smoked the stuff, but because he admitted to being addicted to marijuana and abusing alcohol, which necessitated a trip to rehab. Thus far, 2014 has been a bounceback year for him statistically.

Scouting report: Singleton is a big man with explosive bat speed, which is his main attraction. The bat that carried him up the chain and into the big leagues features big-time raw power that should translate to high home run totals down the line. He doesn’t have the best feel for hitting, but he recognizes the pitches he can and cannot hit and can work himself into hitter’s counts. Like most top hitting prospects, Singleton can demolish fastballs. However, major-league pitchers not only have quality off-speed and breaking pitches, but can locate them with precision, which will be a big test.

Scouts and people in the know question Singleton’s #want and immaturity on and off the field. Separate those issues from the rest of the equation, though, and you have a first-division first baseman with a second-division floor, so makeup could be the key to the Astros’ return on their investment. —Chris Rodriguez

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<< Previous Article
This is Not Your Fathe... (06/04)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article The Call-Up: Oscar Tav... (05/31)
Next Column >>
Premium Article The Call-Up: Cam Bedro... (06/05)
Next Article >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (06/04)

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