Jonathan Singleton is putting up the type of stats that often lead to a promotion to the majors, but he might remain with the Class AAA Oklahoma City RedHawks for a while.
One of the top prospects in minor league baseball, Singleton is a power hitter with soft hands, a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman.
Quinton McCracken, the Houston Astros’ director of player development, said Singleton will benefit from additional Triple-A seasoning after getting a late start last season due to a 50-game suspension.
“He has the potential to be a perennial All-Star at the next level,” McCracken said. “The bottom line is, when he shows the organization he’s ready to play consistently at the next level, and the opportunity presents itself, he will get his opportunity.”
Singleton, 22, leads the Pacific Coast League in home runs (nine) and RBIs (27). He’s hitting .304 with a .414 on-base percentage and is the leading candidate to be named PCL Player of the month.
Another thing that could be keeping Singleton in the minors is his potential status as a “Super Two” player. Super Two is a designation that goes to some players with major league service time and affects their arbitration status. Keeping Singleton from Super Two status could potentially save Houston some salary money.
When asked about Astros fans debating when he should be promoted to the majors, Singleton said his focus is improving on a daily basis.
“I really try not to think about it too much,” Singleton said. “When I get that phone call, I’ll thank God for it. Right now I’m just trying to have fun and work hard every day to get better.”
Singleton collected only 245 Triple-A at bats last season after he sat out the first seven weeks of the season following a second failed test for marijuana.
“He learned a lot about himself on and off the field, as a man and as a player,” McCracken said. “Adversity builds character. That’s part of the process in a player’s development.
“We’re thoroughly excited about his progression. Last year he stubbed his toe a little. This year, all the hard work, the lessons learned from last year, Mr. Singleton has applied those lessons and his talent is shining through.”
Singleton has been so hot that PCL pitchers are pitching around him. He’s drawn 18 walks in 24 games. RedHawks hitting coach Leon Roberts said it’s another step in his maturation process.
“I tell him he might only get two or three pitches a game to hit while some guys get five to seven,” Roberts said. “I remind him he has to be ready 100 percent of the time so he can take advantage of those two or three.
“What I like him is he’s willing to listen and uses the hitting tricks we’ve talked about. He has a great work ethic.”
Roberts said Singleton reminds him a little of a San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer.
“Willie McCovey is the picture in my mind,” Roberts said. “Like Willie, Jon has that type of skill and he plays unbelievable defense like Willie played.”
Singleton said he texts his pal George Springer, who was called up by Houston earlier this season. Singleton is hopeful he will join the Astros‘ outfielder at some point this season.
“I’m just trying to put a good swing on the ball every time I step to the plate,” Singleton said. “Every day I try to get better with cage work and batting practice. I’m always swinging with a purpose whether that’s pulling the ball or going the other way.”