Most young MLB players who get released from a team after a poor performance hardly ever make it back to the majors. Minor league stints happen often, but it's certainly rare to make it all the way back. That isn't the case for Jon Singleton. Formerly the #2 prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies system in 2011, Singleton was known for his raw power and impressive plate discipline. He was traded to the Houston Astros in 2011 and subsequently made his MLB debut on June 3rd, 2014.
Right before his promotion, Singleton signed a five-year, $10 million deal with the capability to make $35 million in his first five years in the majors. Even without any major league experience, the Astros clearly saw potential in this young first basemen and could possibly be part of the cornerstone they were building with 24-year old Jose Altuve and rookie George Springer.
Better Late Than Never
After an underwhelming start to his major league career including multiple failed drug tests leading to a 100 game suspension that initially ended his time in the Show in 2018, Singleton is back, and he looks ready.
No, this isn't a joke. He's literally back. As of this season, Singleton returned to the majors after eight years and 153 days with a brief showing on the Milwaukee Brewers. After 29 at-bats with a .109 AVG, Singleton was released.
Shortly thereafter, Houston decided to give him a second chance. After a sterling performance with AAA Sugarland, boasting a .333 AVG, 12 HRs, and a 1.138 OPS, he was promoted to the big leagues. In his Astros debut, he showcased his improved plate discipline in Baltimore, securing a leadoff walk in the 9th from arguably the best closer this season, the Orioles' Felix Bautista. Jon's walk set the table for Kyle Tucker, as he hit a go-ahead grand slam that put the Astros up 7-6.
Singleton shortly thereafter made his first home start three days later against the Los Angeles Angels and did not disappoint. Nine years after hitting his first career homer against the same team, Singleton did it again, smashing two more bombs against Angels' starting pitcher Reed Detmers. Both landed nearly in the same spot on the second deck of the right field seats.
A Fantastic Showing
How fitting, the team he hit his first career home run against, Singleton doubles down and hits two homers in two consecutive at-bats in his return. He is the first player in MLB history to have a multi-home run game between eight years of his last big league home run.
Even after his two home run at-bats, Singleton worked a walk, and then singled in his final at-bat of the game, going 3 for 4 with five RBIs as the Astros won 11-3.
Singleton's approach to the plate appears more mature and calculated. In eight total at-bats with Houston, Singleton walked twice and hasn't struck out. He isn't swinging at pitches out of the zone much compared to his days as a younger big leaguer. In AAA Sugarland this season, Singleton had a 1.30 Strikeout to Walk Ratio, a full half from his 2.68 MLB Strikeout to Walk Ratio in 2014.
Astros sideline reporter Julia Morales spoke with Jon Singleton following the game and asked him how it felt hitting those two home runs in his return to Minute Maid Park:
""It felt great. It was a big moment and I'm glad to help us win.""- Jon Singleton
Jon also mentioned how good he's felt at the plate as of late and told Julia the reason why it's made him play so well:
""Honestly, being mentally and physically ready to hit every single pitch. I treat every pitch as an at-bat so that has a lot to do with it.""- Jon Singleton
In the postgame interview, Dusty Baker also chimed in on Singleton's performance:
""That was great for him. Second stint here, eight years, It's a long time. It's a great story, The fact that it happened and he help us win a ball game, couple home runs, a hit and five RBIs, long time between big league homers, all the guys are happy for him.""- Dusty Baker
The Potential Problem At First Base
Even with a small sample size, Singleton is expected to receive more starts with Jose Abreu's recent injury, along with his consistent struggles at the plate this season. If Jon continues to rake the baseball down the stretch into September, there might be a debate as to whether or not he should take over Abreu's duties at first base.
Only time and results will dictate this prediction. Nevertheless, Dusty Baker may have a potential dilemma on his hands as the Astros continue to compete against the Texas Rangers for the AL West Division crown.