Did Philadelphia Phillies Dodge Bullet By Trading Jonathan Singleton?
Former Philadelphia Phillies first base prospect Jonathan Singleton, a key element of the Hunter Pence trade in 2011 and currently the top 1B prospect in all of baseball with the Houston Astros, recently admitted to an addiction to marijuana after two consecutive failed drug tests and a 50-game ban to start his 2013 season, as much was evidence on his face. However, for the first time in his young 22 years on Earth, Singleton opened up about his struggles with marijuana and the addiction that almost cost him his career.
Having been on and off the drug since age 14, he was drafted by the Phillies in the 8th round of the 2009 Amateur Draft. Singleton was almost certainly drafted as an addict, and yet still grew to become the 27th overall prospect in baseball prior to the 2013 season with his personal struggles. He entered rehab after his second failed test and went through a candid and painful withdrawal.
The question for Phillies fans, knowing what we know now about Singleton, is whether the current team would be benefited by having him on their roster or in their minor league system.
The Astros, who will begin their march towards a fourth 100-loss season on Opening Day, are in the exact opposite circumstance as the age-ridden, injury-plagued Phillies. Not only would Singleton be stuck behind Ryan Howard and his albatross of a contract at first base, he would also presumptively be stuck behind Darin Ruf for playing time.
In all likelihood, he would have been traded for someone else, considering the bullishness that GM Ruben Amaro approached extending Howard with. Similarly, with such an old roster and as much of a win-now mentality as one team can really have, patience would be thin for these kinds of off-field issues. There is a much higher likelihood the Phillies would have written him off after his second failed drug test and his status as a prospect would be damaged.
By all accounts, however, Singleton is handling his situation very maturely and in the open. The Astros and all their awfulness appear to be the perfect spot for Singleton to rehab not only himself, but his image and reputation. He is a major part of their burgeoning future and the Astros have shown a willingness to be patient and encouraging of the young man’s recovery. Considering they have been playing to lose for the past three seasons and the current roster is nowhere near playoff ready, there is no real rush to get the 22-year-old Singleton up to the major league squad.
While the Phillies may not have necessarily dodged a bullet, they certainly sold high on him in 2011 and maximized his value considering his future indiscretions. However, Singleton is approaching his struggles with maturity, confidence and moxy, and appears to be in the perfect situation to get his life and career back on track.