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Jon Singleton Called Up: Is He Ready?

Jon Singleton has had an up and down ride to the big leagues, but the latest up feels like it might be one that lasts a long time.


Once a budding phenom in the Phillies organization, then the crown jewel of the Hunter Pence trade and the consensus top first base prospect in baseball, Jon Singleton had a rough go of it in 2013. The now-22 year old was suspended 50 games for a drug test failed due to marijuana use, and he was never able to get things going despite a barrage of power in spring training. Later, we learned that Singleton had heavily abused marijuana, and later alcohol, to the point that he entered a rehabilitation program for a spell. Things were looking a bit bleak for a short time for Singleton, but he nipped his issues in the bud and returned with a vengeance in 2014. The stats say Singleton is a force in the making, but is he truly ready for big league ball?

One skill that most in the scouting community agree translates all the way up the ladder is plate discipline- something that Singleton has in spades going back to his early days in the Phillies' organization. He has never posted a walk rate south of 13% for a full season, including a career high 17.6% mark this season. Singleton is also sitting on a career low 22% K rate. Walks are a great buoy for any hitter as they tend to come at more regular intervals than hits, and will be a big part of Singleton's major league value.

The world is also well aware of his prodigious power, which took some time to manifest but is out in full force now. Singleton is still largely a pull hitter with just one opposite field bomb this season and a large majority of his hits going to the right side of the field. Going the other way more often is the last facet of Singleton's game that needs fixing, and pitchers will likely try to attack him on the outside part of the plate early on. However, Singleton's eye will help him in this department, as he'll force pitchers to locate as they seek to exploit his weaknesses.

Singleton is not an all-or-nothing hitter. He has a willingness to go to the gap rather than swing for the fences, and he employs a simple swing that allows him to catch up to velocity. However, his line drive rates are lagging and it'd be good to see him focus less on lofting the ball 100% of the time. He loads his hands quickly and quietly and explodes into the ball using his powerful frame. There are elements of Singleton's game that need to be developed in terms of becoming a true hitter rather than a masher, but he has the potential to become just that in the long run, and his mashing ability is already well developed. He's not going to have the best seasons of his career in his early 20s, but he has the potential to impact the Astros' roster with power and patience right away.