Houston Astros first baseman Jonathan Singleton (Photo by Bob Levey, Getty Images)
Minor League Notes, April 16, 2012
**Houston Astros first base prospect Jonathan Singleton is adapting well in the early going to the Double-A Texas League, hitting .343/.439/.514 in his first 10 games for Corpus Christi. Interestingly he hasn't hit any homers yet, but has four doubles and a triple to his credit. Despite his reputation as a budding slugger, not to mention his 6-2, 235-pound frame, Singleton has never fully unleashed his raw power, hitting 14 homers in 2010 and 13 in 2011. He controls the strike zone reasonably well and has good pure hitting skills, so the theory is that more home runs will come with experience. It's a nice theory and at age 20 it still has plenty of time to come true.
**The same theory used to be applied to Boston Red Sox first base prospect Lars Anderson, but in his case the theory proved as ephemeral as phlogiston, luminiferous ether, and the canals on Mars. Lars is off to another mediocre start at Triple-A Pawtucket, hitting .235/.372/.324 through 10 games. As usual he's showing good plate discipline and has a solid OBP, but his swing just doesn't produce the power expected from a 6-4, 215 pound first baseman. The Red Sox have given him some innings in left field this spring to improve his versatility and/or salvage some trade value. His running speed is below average and he'll obviously need time to learn the position, but he's not a bad athlete and he could probably become adequate in time. It still won't be enough without more offensive oomph.
**Another first baseman to watch this year is Aaron Westlake in the Detroit Tigers farm system. Drafted in the third round last June out of Vanderbilt, he didn't show the expected power last summer in the New York-Penn League, where he hit .264/.328/.377 in 27 games, a far cry from his college production. He's off to a fast start in 2012, hitting .350/.409/.475 through 10 games for Low-A West Michigan in the Midwest League. He's homerless, but he has five doubles. Westlake features a good feel for the strike zone, some pure hitting skills, and plenty of power potential. At age 23, he needs to move through the A-ball levels quickly this year. The best news is that he's showing no ill effects from a concussion he suffered last summer.
**St. Louis Cardinals first base prospect Matt Adams was excellent in Double-A last year, and has been devastatingly effective so far in Triple-A, hitting .381/.422/.690 in his first 11 contests for the Memphis Redbirds. He has three walks and 10 strikeouts in 42 at-bats, which isn't an ideal ratio, but you can't argue with his production including four doubles and three homers so far. We should definitely see him in the majors later this year, and in his case the raw power inherent in his 6-3, 230 frame has fully blossomed.