Six weeks after calling up George Springer from Triple-A the Astros are set to promote another stud hitting prospect to the big leagues, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that first baseman Jon Singleton is on his way up from Triple-A.
And here’s where it gets even more interesting: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Astros and Singleton have agreed to a long-term contract that guarantees him at least $10 million and could be worth up to $35 million. Handing out long-term deals to inexperienced players has become increasingly popular in recent years, but to do so the day you call a prospect up from the minors is taking things to another level.
Houston reportedly tried to do that same thing with Springer before calling him up and Pittsburgh is said to have tried to do the same with Gregory Polanco, but both of those prospects balked at the idea. Passan says if the Astros pick up all three options in the deal they’ll control Singleton through his first year of free agency.
Singleton was acquired from the Phillies in the mid-2011 trade for Hunter Pence and ranked as a top-100 prospect according to Baseball America and MLB.com heading into this season. He’s improved his stock further by hitting .267 with 14 homers and a .941 OPS in 54 games at Triple-A as a 22-year-old, making big strides with his strike zone control to lead the Pacific Coast League with 42 walks.
Houston’s first basemen have been awful this season, hitting a combined .181 with five homers and a .561 OPS in 58 games, so it won’t take a whole lot for Singleton to provide a big upgrade. Meanwhile, after struggling initially Springer is hitting .259 with 10 homers and an .844 OPS in 41 games overall, playing a huge part in the Astros’ recent turnaround.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.