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Jonathan Lee Singleton

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[edit] Biographical Information

Jon Singleton entered 2012 as Houston's top prospect.

Singleton was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 8th round of the 2009 amateur draft; the scout was Demerius Pittman. Singleton debuted with the GCL Phillies and hit .290/.395/.440 in 31 games that summer. Baseball America rated him as the 7th-best prospect in the Gulf Coast League, between Adrian Salcedo and Destin Hood. In his first full season, Jonathan did a fine job with the 2010 Lakewood Blue Claws. At age 18, he batted .290/.393/.478 with 25 doubles, 14 home runs and 77 RBI. He tied Brian Conley for third in the South Atlantic League in OBP (behind J.D. Martinez and Jared Clark), was 4th in slugging (behind Martinez, Clark and Nolan Arenado), ranked 10th in RBI and led first baseman in fielding percentage (.995). Baseball America ranked him as the SAL's top prospect (followed by Arenado and Tyler Matzek) and Most Exciting Player and Philadelphia's second-best prospect.

The Californian began 2011 with the Clearwater Threshers and was at .284/.387/.413 with 56 walks after 93 games. He was then dealt with fellow prospect Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and a player to be named later (Domingo Santana) to the Houston Astros in exchange for Hunter Pence. Assigned to the Lancaster JetHawks, he produced at a .333/.405/.512 clip after the deal while being used in the outfield in addition to his regular first base spot. He finished the season with 70 walks and a .392 OBP overall. Baseball America listed him as the #5 prospect in the California League (between Zack Wheeler and Arenado), #7 in the Florida State League (between Carlos Martinez and Matt Szczur) and #1 in the Houston organization.

Singleton opened 2012 with the Corpus Christi Hooks; after 87 games, he was hitting .276/.398/.493 with 13 home runs, 61 runs and 61 walks. He put on a fine show for the US in their 17-5 win in the 2012 Futures Game. He hit 5th for the USA and started the game at first base. He had their first hit, a single off Jose Fernandez in the second inning. He drew a Felipe Rivero walk to open the 4th and scored on a double by Tommy Joseph to make it 5-4, giving the US its first lead (one they would not relinquish). An inning later, he singled against Enny Romero. In the 6th, against Ariel Pena, he singled home Mike Olt and scored on a homer by Nick Castellanos. He was finally retired in the 7th, flying out versus Kyle Lotzkar. While he reached base four times, so did Castellanos, who took home the MVP instead.

On January 9, 2013, Major League Baseball announced that Singleton had incurred a 50-game suspension for violating its minor league drug program. The violation was not for PED use however, but for the recreational drug marijuana. He was limited to 90 games by the suspension. Splitting his time between Quad Cities, Corpus Christi and the AAA Oklahoma City RedHawks, he hit .230/.351/.401 with 11 homers and 44 RBI. He opened up about the problem in spring training in 2014, explaining that he had come to realize that he had become a drug addict, having used the drug on and off since the age of 14, and needed to work against the fact that he enjoyed smoking weed. A month-long stay in a rehabilitation center had helped but he realized that it was up to him to ensure the craving did not again derail his career. The Astros' brass were supportive and had ensured that he received the best possible help. he began the season with Oklahoma City, where he hit .267/.397/.544 in 54 games, with 10 doubles and 14 homers.

On June 2, 2014, the Astros took the unprecedented decision of signing Singleton to a five-year contract extension even though he had not yet played his first big league game. The five-year deal included team options for three additional seasons and guaranteed Singleton a minimum of $10 million, even if he were to turn out to be a complete bust, while its top value was $30 million if all three options were to be exercised. Singleton wanted some immediate financial security because he needed to provide for an indigent father, while the Astros were hoping to contain costs in case Singleton turned out to achieve all of his potential. Had the two sides not agreed on a contract, the first baseman would have remained in the minor leagues until the time when his eligibility for salary arbitration would have been delayed by another year; with the contract in place, the Astros were free to bring him up immediately without it creating future costs, and they did just that, with their current first base unit of Jesus Guzman, Marc Krauss and Chris Carter not producing much offense. Krauss was sent down to make room for Jon on the roster. His major league debut on June 3rd was a successful one, as he homered off Matt Shoemaker, had two RBIs and also drew a walk in a 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels. On June 8th, he hit his first career grand slam, connecting off Glen Perkins of the Minnesota Twins in the 9th inning of a 14-5 win; as teammate Carter had also hit a slam earlier in the game, it marked only the second time in franchise history that the Astros had hit two grand slams in a game.

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[edit] Further Reading

  • Brian McTaggart: "Singleton to join Astros, agrees on extension: First baseman will make big league debut Tuesday night against Halos", mlb.com, June 2, 2014. [1]

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