Astros GM says top prospect Jon Singleton is “on deck” for a call-up

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Jon Singleton is thriving at Triple-A and the Astros are getting horrendous production at first base, so it sounds like Houston may soon be ready to call up the 22-year-old top prospect.

Singleton, who was acquired from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade and ranked as a consensus top-100 prospect in each of the past four seasons, is hitting .293 with 12 homers and a 1.030 OPS in 38 games at Triple-A and he’s made good strides with his strikeout-to-walk ratio as well.

So when might he arrive in Houston? Here’s what general manager Jeff Luhnow told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com:

Singleton’s progressing. We see him as a guy who’s close to being able to contribute at the major league level. We’re excited. We’ve all seen the reaction the fans had at bringing up prospects like [George] Springer and last year with [Jarred] Cosart and we have more coming. I would say Singleton is on deck.

As usual service time considerations could play a part in Singleton’s call-up and late June would clear the various hurdles in terms of avoiding Super Two arbitration status down the road, but it might be tough to wait that long if he keeps posting a 1.000 OPS and the Astros’ first basemen keep hitting below .200.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.