Jonathan Singleton (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Like or not, prior to being Designated for Assignment, Brett Wallace was a contender for the starting first base job in 2014. Depending on who you spoke to or what your source was, Wallace was even listed as the starter at the top of the depth chart in some places.
We know this was not the ideal situation, and it is why fans have been searching for alternative solutions. At this point, I think we have to assume that the Opening Day starter is someone who is currently on the 40-man roster. Of course, there is still a lot of time for it to be settled and Spring Training has not even begun, but I’m not sure we will see anymore new additions.
On paper, there are technically four options for Bo Porter at first base, but for me there are only two that matter. And those options are Jonathan Singleton and Japhet Amador. Had 2013 not been a bust for Singleton, then I’m not sure that there would even be a discussion here. Amador is a 27 year old who was signed out of the Mexican League and comes with quite the impressive resume.
While Jeff Luhnow did pursue Jose Abreu earlier this off-season, you have to assume that he is satisfied with those two options. I think the hope is that Singleton and Amador play well enough this spring that both earn a ticket to Houston to start the season.
In 90 games last season, Singleton hit just .230 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI’s. Obviously that was an aberration as in 2012 he hit .284 with 21 home runs and 79 RBI’s for AA Corpus Christi. The hope has to be that we see the 2012 version of Singleton this year and he got things moving in the right direction with his Winter Ball performance.
Singleton hit .268 in 35 games this fall/winter with nine home runs and 17 RBI’s while sporting an OBP of .396. Granted the competition is not the same, but no one would argue with that production. It is also important to remember that Singleton is still just 22-years old.
While Singleton has the name recognition and fans are used to seeing him on top prospect lists, Amador is an unknown quantity. Prior to being signed out of the Mexican League, the hulking slugger hit .368 last year with 36 home runs and 121 RBI’s in 104 games.
Amador then went on to appear in 18 games in the Arizona Fall League hitting .284 with four home runs and 12 RBI’s and followed that up by hitting just .209 in 36 Winter League games in Mexico. Amador did add another three home runs and 12 RBI’s.
Obviously he is more of a wild card, but Amador is worth a look this spring. In a perfect world for the Astros, both would hit their way onto the major league roster and first base would be a strength for this season.
The third option is new addition Jesus Guzman who is not an exciting choice, but I think he will play a role with the Astros in 2014. Ideally, it will be a supporting role. Marc Krauss also figures to come into play at some point this year. But I think the real battle to watch will be between Singleton and Amador. Both have some work to do and adjustments to make, which likely means that we will have a month or two of a Guzman/Krauss platoon. But a strong Spring Training could very well change that.