The Houston Astros are calling up former top prospect Jon Singleton, he told The Associated Press on Monday. Here’s what you need to know:
- The 31-year-old first baseman signed a minor-league deal with Houston in June. Singleton is slashing .333/.446/.692 with 19 extra-base hits, 26 walks and 34 strikeouts across his first 148 plate appearances at Sugar Land.
- Houston originally acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies in July 2011, but Singleton played just 114 major-league games with the Astros, striking out 151 times, slugging .331 and notching 14 home runs.
- Singleton — who could provide the Astros’ bench with some extra power — returned to the big leagues in May for an 11-game cameo with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
How Singleton fits into the lineup
Singleton profiles as a pinch-hitter late in games against right-handed relievers. Currently, Corey Julks, Grae Kessinger and Mauricio Dubón are manager Dusty Baker’s options for that role. Julks is 3 for his past 54, Kessinger has 30 major-league at-bats and Dubón has a .488 OPS in his past 103 plate appearances.
That Baker allowed light-hitting catcher Martín Maldonado — and not Julks — to bat with the tying run on base during the eighth inning of Saturday’s 3-1 loss only further accentuated how thin his bench has become. Maldonado struck out against Yankees right-handed setup man Michael King, stalling momentum.
Singleton would inject power this team’s bench does not possess, but whether he could handle such sporadic playing time is a legitimate question. — Rome
What they’re saying
Astros general manager Dana Brown revealed over the weekend the team was considering promoting Singleton amid his scorching start.
“I think if he can come up here — and we’ll give him a shot — if he can come up here and hit the ball well and have quality at-bats, I think he’s a guy that Dusty can say ‘I want to get some more reps on,’” Brown said. “It will be a Dusty call at the end of the day. If we get him up here and Dusty really likes him, we’ll roll with him. If Dusty says I’m limited with this guy, it’ll be his call once we get him up here.”
Singleton’s chances could be complicated by his lack of defensive versatility. Brown acknowledged he is just a “first base, DH or pinch hit” player, much like backup catcher Yainer Diaz.
Singleton skyrocketed up prospect lists after the Astros traded for him in 2011 and, in 2014, signed a five-year, $10 million guaranteed contract before ever making his major-league debut. It was the first extension ever signed by a player with no major-league service time.
Struggles with marijuana addiction — which Singleton first revealed in a 2014 interview with The Associated Press — hindered him throughout his first Astros tenure. Singleton acknowledged to the AP that he required a stint in inpatient rehab after failing his second drug test.
Singleton received three drug suspensions while with the Astros, including a 100-game ban during the 2018 season. The Astros released him shortly thereafter. Singleton did not play affiliated baseball again until 2022 when the Brewers — then run by former Astros executive David Stearns — signed him to a minor-league contract.
(Photo: Scott Halleran / Getty Images)