Astros call up first base prospect Jon Singleton from Triple-A

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Jon Singleton struggled in his first taste of the majors last season, but the 23-year-old first base prospect has been crushing Triple-A pitching this season and now the Astros are calling him up for a second go-around.

Singleton batted .168 with 134 strikeouts in 95 games as a rookie last year, which was bad enough to create concerns about his long-term potential after ranking among Baseball America’s top-100 prospects in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

But it’s hard to argue with his Triple-A production this year, which includes hitting .280 with 17 homers, 17 doubles, and a .940 OPS in 70 games while drawing 47 walks compared to 60 strikeouts. Singleton also had similar numbers at Triple-A last season, so he absolutely deserves a chance to show that he’s better than the rookie ugliness.

It’s unclear how much action Singleton will see or how long he’ll stick with the Astros, because Evan Gattis and Chris Carter have been serving as Houston’s everyday designated hitter/first baseman duo.

For now he takes the roster spot of veteran reliever Chad Qualls, who was placed on the disabled list.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.