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Jon Singleton Gets it Going

Jonathan Singleton is fresh off of his suspension and creating a buzz. But what should you expect from him this season?

H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY

It's been no secret that Jonathan Singleton is back from his 50 game suspension. I mean it was nicknamed all over twitter, the blogosphere, and here at TCB as Jonathon Singleton Day! The Quad Cities River Bandits radio broadcast more than likely had more listeners that night than any night...ever?

But what does one game in baseball make? A small sample size.

What does two games in minor league baseball make? A tornado.

Now you see my poor joke-making skills. It's a reference to his third game being rained out and the accompaniment of tornadoes in the area last night.

It had hype. It had attention. IT HAD RESULTS!

You can't deny that Jon Homerton's has had perhaps the most prolific season debut over the last five to ten years in the Astros organization. It had hype. It had attention. IT HAD RESULTS! That's what I think is the most intriguing aspect of the whole thing.

Game 1: 2-2, HR, BB

Game 2: 2-4, 2B, HR, SO

Are you kidding me? Let me include you on the factors at play that goes into where he should be at.

His debut was the 51st game of the season. Meaning, he's been in Extended Spring Training for almost two whole months playing in games that aren't really considered games down in Florida with an array of pitchers that will be assigned all the way from A-Short Season leagues to Latin America Complex leagues. Yep, that's a huge variance in the quality of pitching he's been facing.

Singleton is actually age appropriate for the league. He's not young for the level, but it's not uncommon for college players older than he to be in the Midwest League at his age. So, it's not like 24 year old crushing kids.

Quad Cities home park had a park factor on home runs in 2012 of 85. Meaning, the park suppresses home runs. Honey Bad....Jon Homerton don't care. He'll hit him them anyway.

But let's take a look at the pitchers that he's infuriating with his well-documented bat flips.

The first home run was in the first inning against Dillon Maples. A young pitcher who is less than a year younger than Singleton. Maples was drafted in the 14th round in 2011 by the Cubs but didn't pitch that year. He pitched just 10 1/3 innings last year in the Arizona League (similar to the Gulf Coast League) and struggled with walks badly but had good strikeout numbers and was phenomenal with ground balls (72% GB%!). He was rated as the #6 Cubs prospect by and the 18th best by Baseball America for the 2013 season. He first pitched this year on May 12th so he has less than a month in the league. He's had very poor results so far. His peripherals looked good but have gotten worse after his first two appearances. He's had success inducing ground balls, until J-Sing launched that home run.

The second was off Justin Amlung who was a 12th round pick by the Cubs last year. He pitched well in the AZL last year before moving up to the Northwest League where his results plummeted in a small sample with a poor strikeout rate. He also has had some fairly good groundball numbers as well as decent overall numbers this season; However, he's older than average for the league and about a year older than Singleton.

What this tells us is that he homered off two struggling pitchers in a sense. Talented as Maples may be, he has poor command. Amlung is older for the level and doesn't have great stuff.

Now against the Cubs first round pick last year, Pierce Johnson, Singleton struck out looking and flew out. All part of the game. Johnson has good stuff. Singleton also drew a walk against the wild Maples. He then singled off of older reliever with poor results, Lendy Castillo. He also doubled off of Amlung.

Not an overly impressive set of pitchers that he faced outside of Johnson. Not to say that what he did was easy. It's not. It's an impressive feat. But, all it really shows is that he is way too advanced for this level. He knows how to take a mistake and make the pitcher pay for it. He's not going to be in Quad Cities long.

In fact, they are on the road tomorrow and I doubt that Jeff Luhnow would let him go to a level for two games, I wouldn't be surprised if he's headed to Corpus tomorrow. Quad Cities received their bonus in ticket sales already and they won't be home again until June 11th. I suspect his time there is going to be very brief. No more than two weeks. A week to week and a half is a good estimate.

The outlook for him though is different. The hooks have an off day on Monday with home games starting on Tuesday before a week long road trip. I think his time will be a bit longer in Double-A. After all, some of the best talent is there. Not the best competition, but talent. That will be when he really gets his feet wet by facing the plus fastballs, plus breaking balls, real control, real pitching.

That will be a test that he will ultimately decide how long it lasts.

Without a doubt though, he'll get to Oklahoma City. Probably by late June or early July. He'll unseat RedHawks first baseman and attempt to show the front office that he's ready. Given the time off and never facing Triple-A pitching before this year, he'll stay there. There's just no reason to push him to the majors before September.

Tony D. is there because Luhnow trusts him to say when the guys in AAA are ready to perform in the majors.

There is no doubting his power. There's no doubting his ability to hit. There's no doubting his plate discipline. But, you still have to see him put it together. He has to show an adjustment to the competition. Pay close attention to strikeouts and walk ratios. Those will be the keys. If you have, watch his at bats closely. Is there a weakness? If you can see it, don't you think scouts and front offices see it?

It's not going to be about the numbers in AAA. It's going to be about the little things. Is he ready to be a big leaguer? Talent is there. Tools and skills are there. But, he has to show that he can layoff the slider down and away. Recognize the changeup so he's not on his front foot lunging. Seeing the curve fall out of the zone. The pitch that jams him. Those are things he has the talent to hide in the minors but can't in the majors. He's going to have to prove those things now. Why do you think Tony DeFrancesco is in OkC? He knows what Luhnow wants. Luhnow knows that and that's why he was so adamant about him having a job in this organization.

Tony D. is there because Luhnow trusts him to say when the guys in AAA are ready to perform in the majors.

Tony D. will get that through to him. And come September, we'll know if he does. When rosters expand and Singleton comes, if he performs well, it's because he's done the little things. If he struggles, it's because he hasn't.

I say he'll be up in September because Singleton showed he has ML talent in the spring. He'll perform enough in AAA to earn it. Plus, despite being on the ML roster, his service time start. September call-ups don't start their arbitration clocks.

So, watch the little things. Jeff Luhnow will be.