The Astros’ Jonathan Singleton finished last season in Double-A and ranks as the top first-base prospect in the minors, but his flight to Houston has been delayed with the revelation Wednesday that he failed multiple drug tests administered by Major League Baseball and must serve a 50-game suspension at the outset of 2013.
The 21-year-old Singleton twice tested positive for marijuana, which is classified as a “drug of abuse” in the minor league drug prevention and treatment program. “I accept the penalty and take full responsibility for my actions,” Singleton said in a statement. “I apologize to my parents, the Houston Astros and (general manager) Jeff Luhnow.”
Singleton hit .284/.396/.497 with 21 home runs in 461 at-bats for Double-A Corpus Christi in 2012, leading the Texas League in runs (94) while ranking second with 88 walks and fifth with 52 extra-base hits. He put up a .939 OPS in the second half and, he probably would have made his big league debut near the midpoint of the 2013 season, assuming he didn’t fall flat in Triple-A.
Given that he won’t get going until June this season, Singleton may have to wait until August or September before receiving a callup to Houston. The Astros may be tempted to add him to the 40-man roster at an earlier point, however, seeing as they’ll promote the 2009 draft pick at some point this season, regardless, to shield him from the Rule 5 draft. Houston’s 40-man is at capacity now, but included in that count are two big league Rule 5 picks, reliever Josh Fields and first baseman Nate Freiman, who could be waived during spring training.
Other prospects who will begin the 2013 season on the sidelines due to failed drug tests include Ryan Brett (Rays), Josh Sale (Rays) and Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays). Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal flunked a test while with San Diego, but with just 192 big league at-bats to his name, he’s not so far removed from being a prospect.