It is no secret that the Houston Astros are struggling at the start of their 2014 season. Through 20 games, the Astros record sits at 6-14 — in large part due to the team’s .194 batting average. Meanwhile, top prospect Jon Singleton is mashing Triple-A pitching. Already a member of the 40-man roster, the only thing that stands between Singleton and Houston is a phone call from general manager Jeff Luhnow. With the Astros opening a nine-game homestand Thursday, it would make sense for Singleton to make the hour and a half flight down from Oklahoma City to Houston.
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Marc Krauss, Chris Carter and Jesus Guzman have all spent time at first for Houston this year. The three have combined to hit .183 and have struck out 29 times (41% of at-bats) while playing at first base. They have hit a combined three home runs, driving in five runs — not a single RBI on any hit that has not left the yard.
Singleton on the other hand, has 25(!) RBIs and eight home runs — both of which lead the Pacific Coast League. He is currently slashing .325/.418/.740, good for an OPS of 1.158. He has six doubles, which is just one less than Krauss, Carter and Guzman have combined.
Evan Drellich wrote that Singleton could have been called up as early as April 19 with Houston retaining team control until 2020 — just as with Springer. This leaves only two reasons for the Astros keeping Singleton down — his Super 2 status or the team does not think he is ready yet.
Luhnow has said that the Astros will not wait until the Super 2 date, which will probably be sometime in June, to call up Singleton. That leaves the only reason for him still being in Triple-A is concerns that he might not be as polished as the team would like.
These worries are not unfounded. As I wrote earlier, Singleton did not exactly have a great stay in Triple-A last season. The Astros probably have the same concerns and would like to leave him in the minors for a little while longer. They may not have that luxury. The fan base is growing tired of losing at the big league level after three straight seasons of at least 100 losses. The excitement of George Springer‘s call up lasted only a game or two before fans grew restless for more prospects.
Obviously, the Astros front office has a plan and probably is not too terribly concerned with the state of the fan base. However, they cannot continue to justify leaving Singleton in the minors if he continues to perform the way he has and the major league first basemen continue to “hit” as they have.
The nine-game homestand starting Thursday seems to be a great time for the Astros to call up Singleton. It’s going to happen eventually, why not then?