Every morning throughout nearly the first two months of the baseball season, Jonathan Singleton was reminded of what he'd done when the alarm went off.
“It was a grind,” Singleton said. “Every day was a grind.”
Instead of starting the season at Double-A Corpus Christi or making his Triple-A debut in Oklahoma City, Singleton was exiled to extended spring training after being suspended for 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy a second time. Singleton has said he tested positive for marijuana.
Instead of playing night games and being able to sleep in, Singleton had to wake up at 6 a.m. every day to work out all morning before afternoon games mostly featuring low-level prospects and players coming back from injury.
Now, after serving the suspension and moving up from Class A to Double-A, Singleton is with the RedHawks, just one step from the majors.
Singleton and the RedHawks open a four-day, six-game homestand Saturday night against Omaha.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound first baseman is ranked by MLB.com as the Astros' No. 1 prospect. Baseball America has him listed as Houston's No. 2 prospect.
Either way, Singleton marks the leading edge of Houston's youth movement arriving in Oklahoma City with the RedHawks.
Through six games with the RedHawks, Singleton is hitting .217 with three doubles, all in his first two games. Singleton was 0 for 4 Friday night.
Moving up to Oklahoma City for the first time after spending all of last season in Corpus Christi has been an adjustment.
“The biggest thing is consistency,” Singleton said. “The higher you get, the more ballplayers get consistent and less mistakes are made throughout the game. But it's just exciting to be here. This is the last minor league stop.”
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow expects Singleton in Houston sooner rather than later.
“Why not?” Luhnow told MLB.com on the possibility of Singleton making his Astros debut by the end of the summer.
But Luhnow also expects some bumps in the road.
“I never assume someone is going to make that jump successfully out of the gate,” Luhnow said. “Ultimately he will, but he's got to demonstrate to us he can handle that environment and pitching before we move him up here.”
Singleton won't discuss the circumstances around his suspension — “I'm just really looking forward to moving forward,” he said.
But Astros officials said the way Singleton has conducted himself him since the punishment was announced has been exemplary.
“I made this perfectly clear to Jonathan when this whole situation came about,” Astros manager Bo Porter told the Houston Chronicle. “I told him, ‘Your baseball skill set is one thing. The talent level speaks for itself.' I said, ‘but you getting this here situation under control behind you and making better decisions moving forward is more about Jonathan the man than it is about Jonathan the baseball player.