Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Staff Picks, where Astros fans choose their own destiny! This week, we will be looking at two First Basemen, Brett Wallace and Jonathan Singleton. For the purposes of this week’s argument, we will be looking at solely next season. I want to know who you want on Opening Day for your 2014 Houston Astros.
First, let’s look at Brett Wallace. Wallace signed with the St. Louis Cardinals after being chosen 13th overall out of Arizona State. Brett was a top prospect for many years in the St. Louis and Oakland systems. He was traded to the Astros from the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010 for Outfielder Anthony Gose. In 28 games at AAA Oklahoma City in 2011 he hit .356 with 15 walks and 28 strikeouts. He was called up, and thus started the never ending cycle of dominating AAA, under-performing at the Major League level. In three years of ML experience, Brett Wallace has hit .245/.395/.711. In the minors, he has hit .309/.499/.882.
What do these stats mean? Well, that’s up for debate. Does it mean that he has talent? Absolutely? Is he under-performing in the Majors? Yep. Is he due to break out? Who knows.
What we do know is that Brett Wallace has 900 ABs in the Majors, so you would assume that we have enough data to judge what type of player he will be. There is still upside. He could turn it around and hit .300 with 30 doubles next year. Need I remind you that that is essentially what Jason Castro is doing?
Brett Wallace will be 27 next year. His “prospect” tag has essentially run out, now he is just a player. Will he be amazing and “worthy” of his high draft selection? I don’t think so. But, I do think we have seen his “floor”. You know what you’re getting with Wallace.
Now to your other choice, Jonathan Singleton. Singleton was drafted out of High School and made his professional debut at 17 years old. Through his first three years in the minors, Singleton kept his average around the .290 mark, all while walking 15% of the time. Singleton’s minor league strikeout rate was also low, especially for a power guy, hovering around 20%. He has been in Baseball America’s Top 50 prospect list for almost his entire career, and was even ranked as the Astros number 1 prospect following the 2011 season.
This year has not been so kind to Singleton. Suspended for 50 games for
a violent crime marijuana use, Singleton has struggled since his return. He started his year off in Single-A Quad Cities. Jeff Luhnow kept his progression plans close to the vest, but it seemed only a matter of time before he was on the big league team this year. After 6 games, he moved to where he left his 2012 campaign, AA Corpus Christi. He hit .263 in 11 games and, alarmingly, stuck out 33% of his plate appearances.
Surely he was just rusty and would straighten it out when he got some more games under his belt at his next stop, AAA Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, you and I both know Singleton has been very disappointing in AAA. In almost 300 plate appearances, he has hit only 6 HRs and is batting a measly .220. Now, this is not time for panic, but it is a little alarming that a young prospect with this much talent and prestige is struggling so mightily in a fairly large sample size at a higher level.
Singleton is still a top prospect and I think he really bounces back next year. But, will he bounce back in AAA or at First in Minute Maid Park? That’s for you to decide. Well, you and Jeff Luhnow. Actually, mainly Luhnow, but we can pretend, right?