In July 2010, the Phillies were in talks with Houston about starting pitcher Roy Oswalt. Singleton was prominent in those discussions, but Philadelphia refused to part with him. Instead, the Astros landed shortstop Jonathan Villar, outfielder Anthony Gose (who was later shipped to Toronto for corner infielder Brett Wallace) and J.A. Happ (who was dealt to the Blue Jays last month in a package for promising pitching prospects).
When the Phillies called Houston last year, inquiring about Pence, the Astros said, “Sure, and we’ll take that first base prospect you have. Jonathan Singleton, is it?”
Needing another bat for its playoff push, Philadelphia reluctantly surrendered Singleton and two other minor leaguers, including right-handed pitching prospect Jarred Cosart.
Today, Cosart is ranked as Houston’s second-best prospect according to MLB.com? Singleton tops the list, with the Astros and in all of Major League Baseball.
Here are the top five first base prospects in the game:
The Phillies were so high on Singleton that they moved him to the outfield since he was blocked by Ryan Howard at first base.
The Astros, which have Wallace at first base and recently acquired third base prospect Matt Dominguez, have played Singleton at first base, left field and DH at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he is batting .277 with 17 home runs, 72 RBI and a .871 OPS in 486 plate appearances.
Since the Astros are moving to the American League West next season, they will have room to accommodate all three because of the DH. Singleton was No. 23 on Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects List.
A first round pick (17th overall) of the Angels in 2011 out of the University of Utah, the 22-year-old Cron is the son of Tigers minor league manager Chris Cron.
A former catcher until he suffered a torn labrum, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound right-handed hitter has a .291 average with 23 home runs, 112 RBI and a .826 OPS at advanced Single-A Inland Empire in the hitting-friendly California League.
With a torn labrum and a surgically repaired knee in his past, Cron is undoubtedly prone to injuries, but the Angels are ecstatic about his future nonetheless.
Now that Albert Pujols has departed St. Louis for the Angels, the Cardinals need a first baseman of the future.
That person could be Adams, a 23-year-old left-handed hitter. It has been an eventful year for the 23rd round pick out of Slipper Rock University in 2009.
He has a .329 average with 18 home runs and 50 RBI at Triple-A Memphis, batted .244 with two home runs and 13 RBI during his first Major League stint while Lance Berkman was on the DL, and spent time on the DL himself with an elbow injury in July.
Adams could make the Cardinals’ opening day roster next season.
A third round pick out of Puerto Rico in 2007, the 23-year-old Soto has the unenviable label of being a top prospect in the Reds organization blocked by one of the game’s best hitters, Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto.
Because of Votto, who signed a long-term deal earlier this year, the Reds could trade Soto like they did another highly regarded first base prospect, Yonder Alonso, who is currently in the majors with San Diego.
Placed on the DL earlier this season with back spasms, Soto has a .243 average with 14 home runs and 55 RBI at Triple-A Louisville.
A fifth round pick in 2009 out of Loyala Marymount, the 24-year-old Wheeler plays first base and third base, and he made his Major League debut on July 20 when Arizona released Geoff Blum.
For the Diamondbacks, the left-handed hitting Wheeler has a .214 average in 28 at-bats and has yet to hit his first big league home run.
He punished Pacific Coast League pitching this year with a .351 average, 15 home runs and 90 RBI at Triple-A Reno.