Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle is reporting that slugging first baseman Jonathan Singleton will report to the big leagues to start his career Tuesday for the Astros. A much hyped prospect with a laundry list of issues, there's little debate that he can bash the baseball. Let's review the talented power hitter.
Jon Singleton is a 22 year old slugger who plays first base. Before getting to his on the field exploits I have to mention the off the field situation, just so you are aware of the background baggage he brings (it's hefty). Just ask him.
“At this point it’s pretty evident to me that I’m a drug addict,” he said. “I know that I enjoy smoking weed, I enjoy being high and I can’t block that out of my mind that I enjoy that. So I have to work against that.”
Give him credit for realizing he has a problem, but re-read that quote. Doesn't it sound like a guy who is teetering on the edge of controlling his addiction? He fell pray to his addictions last season when he was suspended 50 games for a second failed drug test. He also said this. “Even after I failed the second drug test I couldn’t stop smoking weed. It was really bad.”
Singleton entered a rehab facility and lived there for a month and so far he's reportedly been clean ever since. Still, he admitted he had used marijuana since he was 14 years old. He also has admitted that he has abused alcohol often using it as a substitute for weed. “I guess I just don’t like being sober,” he said. “I like to change the way I feel.”
Singleton also went AWOL for a few days last year and no one could find him.
He says he's fine and he hasn't been involved in any known off the field incidents since, but understand that Singleton is a massive risk – just read his own quotes again. He has a problem. He's trying. Will the allure of getting high overcome him once again, especially with the pressures he will face now that he is in the bigs?
ON FIELD SKILLS
Given his off the field issues, Singleton might be ranked lower than you thought by some serious sources. Coming into the 2014 season here are three trusted sources.
Baseball America: 82nd best prospect in baseball
Baseball Prospects: 50th best
MLB.com: 57th best
Not what you thought?
In 538 minor league games Singleton has a solid, though far from impressive, slash line of .279/.388/.466. He's struck out 503 times, pretty common anymore for a power bat to strikeout once a game, but at least he's not afraid to take a walk (see his total of 339 free passes).
He thumps the ball but good. In 142 games he hit 23 big flies and in 127 games at Triple-A he's socked 20 long balls (that includes 14 homers in just 54 games this season). His power is prodigious. He could easily develop into a 30 home run hitter at the big league level, and his power should be evident from day one.
At the same time, let's be honest here. He strikes out a lot, has hit .241 in 127 games at Triple-A, and can be pitched too. Most of his struggles, as a left-handed swinger, have come against lefties. In 2012 his slash line against lefties was bad (.234/.309/.419 over 139 plate appearances). In 2013 his slash line against lefties was atrocious (.170/.301/.245 in 113 plate appearances). He's done a much better job to start this season but over his last 520 plate appearances against lefties he's hit .239 with a .338 OBP and .367 SLG. He's going to have to continue to grow against lefties or he'll be fortunate to hit .250 in the big leagues.
ASTROS CURRENT OPTIONS AT FIRST
Jesus Guzman is batting .208 and Mark Krauss is “hitting” .173. Combined, everyone that has played first for the Astros this year is batting .181 with a .561 OPS. Singleton will be given a spot in the daily lineup. There is no question.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo, Singleton agreed to a contract Monday for up to $30 million over eight seasons (five years are guaranteed, then there are three club options). This is the first long-term contract, ever, to be given to a player with no big league at-bats. If Singleton hits as expected this is a massive win for the Astros. If Singleton succumbs to his addictions, well you know what happens then. Can't help but feel that the Astros made a shrewd business decision though I feel like they prayed a bit on Singleton knowing that a man in his position would likely take the deal (at some level, doesn't it seem like Jon must have said to himself – it's $10 million for sure, and with my off the field issues maybe I should just take it.)
Singleton was called up to play first base every day. He's got big time power and that should play right away. He also strikes out, has traditionally struggled with lefties, and will be hard pressed to be a positive producer in the batting average category (he's also not going to do anything on the base paths, so put that out of your mind). When you try to figure out what to do with Singleton you should have names like the following in mind: Ryan Howard, Mike Napoli, Mark Reynolds, Mark Trumbo and Adam Dunn. Don't get to carried away by the hype train – this is a youngster with skills but a ton of questions.
Where does that leave Singleton's 2014 outlook?
10 tm mixed: Very minimal interest. Can add and then hope to deal if he gets off to a hot start, but unlikely to be a season long weapon.
12 tm mixed: Should be added with the hope that he can be a corner infield option. Would still be adviseable to avoid dropping an established big leaguer.
15 tm mixed: Has to be added. Could be a nice weapon given the player pool penetration.
AL-only: Must add if he wasn't drafted (can't understand why he wouldn't have been). Worth paying significant dollars for if you missed out on the likes of Juan Francisco and Kyle Blanks types.
KYLE ELFRINK AND I TALK ABOUT SINGLETON ON SIRIUSXM FANTASY SPORTS RADIO.
To see where Singleton and all the players rank moving forward be sure to take a look at the June Rankings Update.