Rangers sign their top two draft picks

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The Rangers officially inked their top two draft picks on Friday, signing Kevin Matthews and Zach Cone to contracts with bonuses just under $1 million.

Texas sacrificed its first-round pick, the 19th overall selection, to sign Adrian Beltre, but gained the 33rd and 37th overall selections as compensation for losing Cliff Lee.

Unfortunately, after splurging to sign Cuban defector Leonys Martin in May, they declined to be aggressive with either pick, instead targeting players who would sign for slot money.

The 33rd pick, which originally belonged to the Phillies, was used on Matthews, a left-hander out of a Georgia high school.  He had a 1.68 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 42 innings in his senior year for Richmond Hill.

Cone, sadly, is most famous for being involved in the outfield collision that left University of Georgia teammate and now fellow Ranger draftee Johnathan Taylor paralyzed.  He was drafted 37th overall after hitting .275/.331/.385 with four homers and 35 RBI in 247 at-bats for the Bulldogs this year. He is a legitimate center fielder, but his bat is a big question mark.

According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, Matthews got a $960,000 bonus, while Cone’s was $873,000.

Astros release Jon Singleton

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The Astros have released first baseman Jon Singleton, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Singleton, 26, was suspended for 100 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse for a third time. He has had issues with marijuana in the post and admitted to being a drug addict several years ago. He said, “At this point it’s pretty evident to me that I’m a drug addict. I don’t openly tell everyone that, but it’s pretty apparent to myself. I know that I enjoy smoking weed, I enjoy being high and I can’t block that out of my mind that I enjoy that. So I have to work against that.”

Singleton played parts of two seasons in the majors in 2014-15 with the Astros, batting a combined .171/.290/.331 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in — appropriately — 420 plate appearances. He spent 2016 with Triple-A Fresno and 2017 with Double-A Corpus Christi, putting up middling numbers.

If he can convince teams he’s still actively working to overcome his addiction, Singleton may be able to find an opportunity elsewhere. But his road back to the majors remains long. He was once a top prospect in the Phillies’ system, then was traded to the Astros in the Hunter Pence deal back in July 2011.