Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Singleton ’

Day 4: Clemens works with Astros pitchers

With almost all of the position players have reported to camp Wednesday, the Astros will hit the field Thursday for the first full-squad workout of the spring. There was no shortage of news Wednesday, with the arrival of Roger Clemens, a calf injury to Jesse Crain and news Japhet Amador wasn’t reporting.

Many position players have been here for days, hitting in the cages and on the field in groups later in the day. They’ll be hard at it Thursday doing defensive drills and conditioning working along with the pitchers and catchers, who have four days of camp under their belts.

“When you have this many guys show up early, it almost feels like you’ve had a full workout just because we had so many guys that are here,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “I just got finished commending the position players. It’s not every day you have pretty much your entire contingent of position players show up two, three, four days early and have the type of workouts and size of workouts they’ve been able to have.

“I think after we’ve had so many guys here already, it almost feels like we’ve had the whole team here.”

One player who had yet to report to camp as of 1 p.m. ET Wednesday was first baseman Jonathan Singleton, who was expected to be on the field Thursday.

“I think he will be here,” Porter said. “One of the guys told me they went to call him and the phone went to voice mail, so they think he’s on his way here on a flight. … I commend those guys who came in early, but at the same time it is voluntary and you don’t have to be here until Thursday.”

Porter will have different groups of position players lead the daily “break point” drills, when the players are given an in-game scenario to execute at the end of workouts. And like last year, there will be the daily shaking of hands on the field reminiscent of what takes place when the Astros win.

“We’re looking forward to it as a staff, and I’m pretty sure the players will be excited about it,” he said

Porter said he plans to address the full squad Thursday like he did five days earlier when pitchers and catchers worked out for the first time. Owner Jim Crane is not expected to be in camp Thursday to talk to the team.

“I’ve said this to the catchers and pitchers and the position players will hear the same message tomorrow,” Porter said. “The training wheels are off. It’s either you can ride a bike without training wheels or you’ll find down and we’ll pick you up and get you on your way.”

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Clemens with Castro, Cosart

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Hitting coordinator Jeff Albert and hitting coach John Mallee

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Pitchers throwing bullpens

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Jerome Williams and Roger Clemens

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David Stearns, Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter watch workouts

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Roger Clemens and Lucas Harrell

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Rudy Owens

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Pitching coach Brent Strom and Roger Clemens

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Jerome Williams

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Lucas Harrell

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Roger Clemens holds court

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Pitching coach Brent Strom gets animated

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Kevin Chapman warms up

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Bo Porter and Roger Clemens

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Roger Clemens watches Lucas Harrell

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Carlos Munoz

Singleton to start season Tuesday

Astros top prospect Jonathan Singleton will begin his season Tuesday for Class A Quad Cities against Kane County after missing the first 50 games of the season for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse — his second positive test.

General manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday the plan is for Singleton to spend a few days with Quad Cities, a few days at Double-A Corpus Christi before eventually winding up at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He has spent the season so far playing in extended Spring Training.

“We have him on a schedule, and it partially depends on when the team is at home and when the team is on the road and what kind of trip it is and all that,” Luhnow said. “We’ll obviously monitor him and all that. It’s different than coming back from a medical situation when you have to get daily checkups to make sure he’s OK. We know he’s OK. He’s been playing in Florida.”

Singleton, a left-handed-hitting first baseman, hit .284 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in 131 games last year at Corpus Christi and was expected to push for playing time on the Major League club this year. The Astros acquired him and three other players from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011.

When asked if Singleton could reach the Majors this year, Luhnow cautioned that he had yet to even play at Triple-A.

“I never assume someone is going to make that jump successfully out of the gate,” Luhnow said. “Ultimately he will, but he’s got to demonstrate to us he can handle that environment and pitching before we move him up here.”

Singleton headed to Quad Cities

Astros top prospect Jonathan Singleton, who is nearing the end of his 50-game suspension for a second failed drug test, will begin his season sometime next week at Class A Quad Cities before moving to Triple-A Oklahoma City, general manager Jeff Luhnow said Sunday.

Singleton, ranked by as the top prospect the Astros’ organization, was suspended Jan. 9 after violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse. Singleton later said in a statement he had tested positive for marijuana.

Singleton, a left-handed-hitting first baseman, hit .284 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in 131 games last year at Double-A Corpus Christi and was expected to push for playing time on the Major League club this year. The Astros acquired him from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011.

Luhnow didn’t have an exact date for Singleton’s return, saying it would happen next week. He would likely be eligible to return May 28, which would be the 51st game on Corpus Christi’s schedule and he was on its roster when suspended.

“Right now, it looks like we’re going to send him to Quad Cities for a short period of time and from there to go his next assignment, which will probably be Oklahoma City,” he said. “Just give him a chance to play under the lights somewhere else, and Quad Cities is our newest affiliate and we love the ballpark and we love the management team and it’s a good opportunity.

“Whenever we have a chance to send a big leaguer, or close to a big league player there, is strengthens the bond between us and our affiliate.”

Big day from Singleton ends Astros’ stay in Florida

The Astros wrapped up Grapefruit League play with an 11-4 win over the Tigers on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium, getting a pair of homers from Jonathan Singleton and one each from Jason Castro and Rick Ankiel.

After the game, the clubhouse was bustling with activity as players showered, packed and boarded buses for their charter flight to Houston. The Astros will play the Cubs in exhibition on Friday and Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

“I think everybody is excited to get on the airplane and get back to Houston,” Astros manager Bo Porter said.

With four homers Thursday, the Astros have hit 46 homers in 33 games in Florida — their most since hitting 48 in 2002. Porter says he’s confident the power surge will carry into season.

“I’m extremely confident,” he said. “You’d rather be in this position than have a spring where you haven’t hit the ball and wondering if they can hit or not. These guys have good track records, they’ve played at a high level and we believe we have 25 quality baseball players.”

Singleton homered in his first two at-bats off Anibal Sanchez.

“I was just going out there trying to do my best,” he said. “He left a couple of pitches over the plate and I tried to put a good swing on it.”

Singleton, the team’s top prospect, will remain in Kissimmee through the end of May while he sits out his 50-game suspension for a second failed drug test, testing positive for marijuana. He will start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City but could be hitting homers at Minute Maid Park before 2013 is out.

Top prospect Singleton eager to move on

Jonathan Singleton, the top prospect in the Astros system, apologized to the organization, his teammates and his family Friday morning in his first public comments since he was suspended 50 games for a second failed drug test.

Singleton, in an arranged meeting with the media before the start of a Minor League minicamp, took responsibilities for his actions and said he was looking forward to getting back on the field.

“I believe this is an opportunity for me to leave the past behind,” he said.

Singleton will begin the season at extended Spring Training before reporting to Triple-A Oklahoma City when his suspension is up. He won’t be eligible to play for the RedHawks until their May 26 game at Iowa.  He’s eligible to play in Major League Spring Training games.

“I’m going to work harder than ever pretty much to stay in shape and I’ll be ready when the time comes,” he said.

Singleton, a left-handed-hitting first baseman who expected to start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, hit .284 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in 131 games last year at Double-A Corpus Christi. The club acquired him from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011.

“He’s got a bright future in this organization and we feel his mindset is exactly where it needs to be given the situation that occurred and he’s ready to move forward,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “He’s got to serve the suspension. That’s part of the rules, he knows that and he’s owning up to it. We feel good about where he is mentally and physically and he is in great shape.”

Singleton said he’s appreciative of the support he’s received from Luhnow and manager Bo Porter.

“It’s time to change,” he said. “A new opportunity is on the horizon. It’s definitely time to move forward.”

When he was suspended on Jan. 9, Singleton issued a statement saying he had tested positive for marijuana. He admitted watching his teammates play while he can’t will be difficult.

“I’ll be a little anxious, you could say,” he said. “Once the suspension is up, I’ll be excited to play again.”

Singleton said the suspension was a wake-up call.

“I guess it was, in a way, but I’m accepting my consequences and moving forward,” he said.

Luhnow releases statement

Jeff Luhnow’s statement on suspension of prospect Jonathan Singleton for 50 games:

“We learned today that Jonathan Singleton has tested positive for a drug of abuse and has been suspended 50 games as a result.  We are disappointed in the decisions that Jonathan made leading up to this positive test.  Jonathan has expressed regret for his decision and we expect will take the necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.  He has owned up to his actions and that is a necessary first step.  The Astros will support Jonathan through this difficult time and we hope this example will prevent other athletes from making similar decisions.”

A look back on the 2011 Minor League season

The Astros’ eight Minor League affiliates went a combined 337-488, with no team finishing with a winning record. Of the four full-season clubs, Triple-A Oklahoma City finished with the best record at 68-75 in the Pacific Coast League. Double-A Corpus Christi went 50-90 overall, Class A Lancaster was 55-85 overall and Class A Lexington was 59-79 overall.

Astros director of player development Fred Nelson wished the teams’ collective performances would have been better, but the club pushed players aggressively through the system this year and continued to send players to the Major Leagues.

“I would say we’re disappointed from a team standpoint, but I spent some time over the weekend looking at some things and our clubs have been very young,” Nelson said. “And so it makes it difficult at times to compete. That’s no excuse, but certainly our clubs have been young and we’re also just one of seven other clubs that field seven teams here in the United States, so you spread your players a little bit thinner. The individual performances have been very rewarding.”

The system sent several players to the Major Leagues, including third baseman Jimmy Paredes, second baseman Jose Altuve and left fielder J.D. Martinez, each of whom made the jump from Double-A to start in the big leagues. Twenty-year-old pitcher Jordan Lyles made 15 starts for the Astros.

“We moved a lot of players this year, some of it by need,” Nelson said. “Also, just the domino effect. When you take guys to the big leagues it creates holes and opportunities, and we really pushed a lot of kids and most have held their own and done quite well and positioned themselves to be pretty good players for us.”

The biggest impact on the system came when the team traded away Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn near the Trade Deadline. The Astros received 10 players in return, including four of the Phillies’ top prospects – pitchers Jarred Cosart, first baseman Jonathan Singleton, pitcher Josh Zeid and a player to be named later that turned out to be outfielder Domingo Santana.

Pitcher Henry Sosa, who came from the Giants in the Keppinger deal, joined the Astros rotation and has pitched well. Two players acquired from the Braves – outfielder Jordan Schafer and pitcher Juan Abreu – are in the Major Leagues.

“The influx of players, especially the pitchers we got in the trades, have helped us at the Double-A and Triple-A levels moving forward,” Nelson said. “And some of the young kids, the Singleton kid and the signing of [first-round pick George] Springer and the Santana kid that we got from Philadelphia, has really helped us get younger.”

Springer is scheduled to go the instructional league in Florida, and the team is exploring the possibility of trying to find him a winter ball spot in a less competitive environment that Venezuela or the Dominican Republic.

“I think he’ll have a busy offseason playing and that should position himself well to come to Spring Training with a good idea of what’s expected and what’s here,” Nelson said.

The Astros were, of course, thrilled with what Kody Hinze was able to do while splitting the season between Class A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi. He hit a combined .306 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs. He had a .458 on-base percentage and a 1.083 OPS in 80 games at Lancaster, which is in the hitting-friendly California League.

One of the players that opened eyes this season is left-handed hitting outfielder Jacob Goebbert, who began the year in Lancaster and finished in Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit a combined .290 with 12 homers and 67 RBIs with a .352 on-base percentage.

The Astros were pleased with the progress of shortstop Jonathan Villar, who was acquired last year in a trade with the Phillies. He began the season at Lancaster and finished up at Corpus Christi and began to mature and settle into his new surroundings.

Nelson was also impressed with right-hander Jake Buchanan, a starter who was drafted in the eighth round in 2010. He went 5-10 with a 3.91 ERA at Lancaster, walking 35 batters and striking out 102 in 158 2/3 innings in the hitter-friendly California League.

“He pitched exceptionally well,” Nelson said. “We moved him for his last start, with [Lucas] Harrell coming to the big leagues, and he went to Double-A and threw seven innings and gave up a run. That was a nice ending to the season. You’ve got to be excited about what he did.”

Outfielder Austin Wates, the team’s third-round pick in 2010 out of Virginia Tech, batted .300 with nine triples, six homers and 75 RBIs this year in 526 at-bats at Lancaster.

“He’s somebody that had not played a lot in the organization,” Nelson said. “He signed late and went to Tri-City and for the first time and in a full season to go out to the Cal League and do what he did, ending up at .300 and driving in 70-plus runs, that’s good.”

As far as the team’s most recent first-round selections, 2010 pick Delino DeShields Jr. batted just .220 with 30 stolen bases in Class A Lexington of the South Atlantic League, but the Astros were pleased with the way he made the transition full-time from the outfield to second base.

“Delino DeShields actually played outstanding in the Sally League when you look at the fact he played all year at 18,” Nelson said. “I believe he may have been the youngest player in the league. To go from being a converted outfielder to the infield and what we saw of him a year ago in the instructional league to where he stands now defensively is pretty remarkable on his part.

“You have to give him a lot of credit, and a lot of credit to the development people who worked with him. He has a long way to go. He’s just 18 years old, and I could see him being a player that repeats in that league.”

Shortstop Jiovanni Mier, the team’s No. 1 pick in 2009, split the season between Lexington and Lancaster and batted a combined .239 with seven homers, 52 RBIs and a .345 on-base percentage.

“After the All-Star game, we moved him to California League and he played outstanding defense,” Nelson said. “He did get hurt; he missed two-to-three weeks with a knee injury. He has made some adjustments offensively and I think he’s had some challenges offensively. He’s positioned himself to come back and compete for a job in Double-A next year.”

Meanwhile, Vincent Velasquez is making progress in his return from Tommy John surgery. Velasquez was the Astros’ second-round pick in 2010 out of high school in Southern California, and he injured his elbow pitching at rookie-league Greeneville.

Nelson said he’ll throw some innings in the instructional league later this month.

“We’re excited about the progress he made, and we’re looking forward to him getting back into action,” he said. “It’s almost like we acquired another [player through the draft].”