Phillies' Singleton Turned Disappointment Into Success

Ever since he arrived in Lakewood, first baseman Jonathan Singleton has been the best hitter in the South Atlantic League.

But all of his production leads to the obvious question, why wasn't he in the low Class A South Atlantic League from the beginning of the season?

Would you believe he wasn't ready for low Class A ball?

Lakewood manager Mark Parent, in consultation with the Phillies' front office, saw Singleton in spring training. When his team was being put together, he didn't lobby to get the slugger. Instead he asked that Singleton be kept back in extended spring training.

Even after seeing him destroy the league for more than a month, Parent's pretty happy with his decision. Singleton is batting .356/.441/.651 with 10 homers and 14 doubles in 149 at-bats.

"I think he's a better player because he didn't start the season with us," he said. "It could be he needed to be told he wasn't ready for it. He's a great kid. He's a smart kid. I decided not to take him with me on my team and here I am reaping the benefits of him going down (to extended spring training).

"And there's no animosity from him at all. We have a good relationship. He understands the business of working hard."

When Parent saw Singleton in spring training, he thought he was raw and a little stiff at first base. And while his hitting approach was already pretty advanced, he was in need of work on getting his hands ready a more quickly in his swing. So Singleton went to extended spring training, worked hard at some extra fielding drills and refined his tools. As a result, he's turned himself into the SAL's best first baseman.

"He's so much more agile now. He's quicker and his footwork is better. His hands are better at first, and his arm's better," Parent said.

The Phillies have nothing to complain about at the plate either. Singleton has gone hitless in back to back games only twice this season. He atoned for his first 0-for-8 stretch by hitting two home runs the next night. Over the weekend, he went hitless on Friday and Saturday before homering on Sunday.

"He tracks the ball well out of the pitchers hand," Parent said. "He tries to stay inside the ball. His swing is simple. There's no waggle, no leg kick. It makes it simple to keep it working.

"He goes out and sees the ball and hits the ball. For most kids, more is better; for him, less is better. He has strong hands and strong wrists."

When Singleton joined Lakewood on May 13, they were 17-16. The BlueClaws have gone 28-13 since.