There’s a buzz around baseball that Houston’s minor league system is so stocked with impact players that it’s just a matter of time before the Astros are a viable playoff contender.
First baseman Jon Singleton is the latest highly touted prospect to realize his major league dream. The Astros promoted Singleton on Monday, signing the former RedHawk to a five-year, $10 million deal that could be worth $35 million over eight seasons if Singleton reaches incentives.
Tom Lawless, the Astros roving minor league instructor who filled in as interim manager while RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco was undergoing cancer treatments, said the master plan of building around young players is starting to bear fruit.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun for everyone in the organization when all this comes together,” Lawless said. “Some are already up. There are a lot of kids here in Oklahoma City that will help the Astros, and there are a lot more coming from the lower levels.”
Singleton slammed 14 home runs with 43 RBIs, compiling a .397 on-base percentage the first two months of the season with the RedHawks. He former RedHawks teammate, outfielder George Springer, who was promoted in April. Springer already has 10 homers with the Astros.
“The future is very bright here in Oklahoma City,” DeFrancesco said. “We have a very young team, but we’re among the league leaders in pitching, which is what every Major League team is looking for. The organization is going nowhere but up right now.”
While undergoing treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, DeFrancesco sensed optimism growing at Minute Maid Park.
“Every night, I was either watching an Astros game or watching the RedHawks on the internet,” DeFrancesco said. “The young guys here are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. The more experience they get, they’ll be on their way to becoming big-league players.”
Other players currently on the RedHawks’ roster might help the Astros later this season.
Mike Foltynewicz, who can hit 100 mph on a radar gun, is 4-3 with a 3.40 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 55 innings. Foltynewicz might not be far from earning a promotion to Houston after going 3-2 with a 2.24 ERA his last nine starts.
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