Jon Singleton is rated the No. 7 prospect in the Houston Astros’ system and a regular member on Baseball America’s Top 100 list. The first baseman might join the Astros early this season if he gets off to a fast start in Oklahoma City.
“I’m not stressing about anything too much,” Singleton said. “I’m just trying to go out and have fun. That’s my biggest goal for this season, just have fun. If I do that my job is done.”
Most baseball analysts predicted Singleton would start the season in Oklahoma City for the same reasons star center fielder George Springer is with the RedHawks — the Astros can delay the start of their major league service-time clocks, which might save them millions years from now.
And Singleton didn’t help his cause to make the Astros’ opening day roster when he started spring training 0-for-16.
“He didn’t do very good because he was so excited, he tried to hit a home run in the upper deck on every swing,” said RedHawks hitting coach Leon Roberts. “That’s just part of being young, first time being in big league camp, the pressure of trying to earn a starting job.”
Singleton batted .250 the rest of spring training. He finished with a .154 average with one homer and four RBIs.
“Spring training is a time to get back into the swing of things,” Singleton said. “You have to learn to control your effort level. As the spring went on I managed that better.”
Singleton confessed during spring training that he has an addiction problem, something he must conquer to reach the majors. The left-handed slugger from Long Beach, Calif., was suspended the first 50 games last season after failing a marijuana test for the second time in his career.
Following his seven-week suspension last season, Singleton tuned up by smashing lower-level pitching during 17 games at Class A and Double-A. Following a promotion to the RedHawks, he was mired in a lengthy slump for one of the few times in his life.
Singleton said dealing with his marijuana addiction last season led to a brief alcohol issue when he was in his slump. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow didn’t divulge specific details, but he told the Houston Chronicle during spring training the organization has a support team that’s assisting Singleton.
“Anybody that knows anything about addictions knows it doesn’t go away. It’s always there. You have to manage it, stay on top of it,” Luhnow said. “We’re going to provide whatever support we can to help Jonathan through it.”
Oklahoma City interim manager Tom Lawless said: “Jonathan is still a work in progress. There are some things he needs to clean up here in Triple-A. But when he’s ready he’s got a good chance to be an impact player at the big league level.
“He’s a guy that can hit home runs and plays good defense at first base. When you find a guy like that, who can do all those things, he can play in the big leagues for a long time.”
Singleton said if he maintains his “have-fun” attitude, his long-awaited dream of playing in the majors will arrive.
“The biggest thing I learned last year is you can’t be too up and you can’t be too down no matter how good you’re going or how bad you’re going,” he said. “The key is keeping a level head.
“Last year was a learning experience. This year, I’m definitely looking forward to turning the page and get after it.”