Singleton's Bat Living Up To The Billing For Astros





Best Player: The Astros' only representative in the Futures Game, Jonathan Singleton has done nothing to dismantle the notion that he is Houston's first baseman of the future. After a start that saw the bat ahead of the power, he rounded into what is expected to be his long-term form. He was hitting .265/.388/.466 through 72 games, which doesn't blow anybody away, but his 11 home runs ranked among the Texas League leaders.

More impressive is an approach that hardly befits a 20-year-old in Double-A. Hardly an all-or-nothing slugger, he has 48 walks and a very reasonable 68 strikeouts in 296 plate appearances, as the power doesn't come at the cost of contact. Roving instructors coming back to Houston rave about the swing and the advanced profile for his age.

Biggest Leap Forward: Nick Tropeano wasn't the first player to come out of a four-year college and have his way with short-season New York-Penn League hitters adjusting to wood bats. So, that makes this season's performance in his full-season debut at low Class A Lexington very significant. Tropeano, a 2011 fifth-round pick, compiled a 2.78 ERA with 26 walks and 97 strikeouts through his first 15 appearances (14 starts). Maintaining a strikeout rate of exactly 10 per nine innings is good, but it came with an increase in fastball velocity, which makes his future stock even higher.

Biggest Disappointment: Two injury-hampered seasons at low Class A didn't help Tanner Bushue's stock, but still, the body was there and Bushue entered a third season at Lexington ready for a fresh start and just 20 years old. But things cratered this year for the 2009 second-round pick out of high school in Illinois. Bushue made three starts and three relief appearances for Lexington, allowing 23 earned runs in 11 innings for an 18.82 ERA. So again, the Astros hit the reset button. They sent him to extended spring training to give him closer monitoring and then once short-season play started, he was off to Rookie-level Greeneville to see if he could turn this around.

Space Shots

• Righthander Jarred Cosart was a late edition to the Double-A Texas League all-star game on the heels of two of the best starts of his season. Cosart had a 3.65 ERA with 31 walks and 54 strikeouts in 69 innings for Corpus Christi.

• The Astros assigned supplemental first-round pick Lance McCullers to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League after signing him for the far-above-slot price of $2.5 million. After a few outings in the GCL, the righthander will likely head to Greeneville.