Singleton among former Phils prospects in bloom
Of course the cost of remaining a World Series contender comes in the form of dollar signs (Papelbon was a rather pricey free agent, if you didn't hear) but also in premium prospects, too.
The Grapefruit League isn't even a week old and we've already seen a few of the Phillies former top prospects in major league camp and on the field for other teams.
Anthony Gose and Travis D'Arnaud in Dunedin for the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Jonathan Singleton in Clearwater with the Astros on Wednesday.
Directly or indirectly, Gose was involved in trades for Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence... and has found a home in Toronto, the team that wanted him in the initial Roy Halladay trade talks. D-Arnaud did arrive in Toronto in the Halladay trade. Singleton moved from the top of the Phillies prospects list to the top of the Astros' in the Pence deal.
And there are others.
The Phils willingness to trade premium, minor league talent for proven major leaguers - at least in the current regime - began in the fall of '07, when they used Michael Bourn to get Brad Lidge from the Astros. Although Bourn has made two All-Star teams in the time since, the reward outweighed the risk since Lidge was instrumental in the Phillies world championship run in 2008.
It's too early to evaluate some of the other deals. D'Arnaud looks like another future All-Star after hitting .311 with 21 home runs and a .914 OPS in 114 games at Double-A New Hampshire last season; but the Phillies got the best pitcher in baseball back in that trade, a guy who is close to a lock for the Hall of Fame.
One of the great things about these types of trades is following the progression of the minor leaguers after they leave the Phillies organization. Some break out (Bourn) others never materialize (although he's still only 21, Jason Knapp, the best prospect in the first Cliff Lee trade, has pitched in just 13 games in Cleveland's minor leagues because of arm injuries).
One of the guys worth watching this season is Singleton.
This time last spring, Singleton was at the Carpenter Complex in early March, getting acclimated with the outfield grass at Mike Schmidt Field. The 20-year-old Singleton was on the Houston Astros travel roster and in Bright House Field Wednesday.
In the sixth inning, he hit a two-run single off Dontrelle Willis in the Astros 10-3 win.
Singleton, again, was among the three players, along with pitcher Jarred Cosart and outfielder Domingo Santana, traded to Houston in the deal that brought Hunter Pence to the Phillies in July.
“I still have to work hard and prove myself, that hasn’t changed,” Singleton said. “But the position’s up for the taking, and that’s definitely something that’s different.”
Singleton, a natural first baseman, was moved to the outfield briefly last season since his path to the big leagues was blocked by Ryan Howard. An 8th round pick by the Phils in 2009, Singleton has hit .294 with 29 home runs in parts of three minor league seasons (263 games).
With the Astros, he can move back to first base and not worry about learning a new position, which should get him to the big leagues sooner.
Here's more from Singleton:
Q: With trade deadline approaching and Phillies ability to pull of trade deadline deals, how did you take the trade?
Singelton: “I kind of knew about it, but I wasn’t really thinking about it. Leading up to that day I was still going out and playing my game. If I got traded, I got traded, but I was going to make the most of it. Things happen and here I am today.”
Q: Is one of the benefits of going to Houston that you're closer to the big leagues?
Singleton: “I definitely feel like this is a new experience and I can only learn from it. It definitely shows me what the work ethic they have is, what I have to do to get there and stay there. I’m loving it so far.”
Q: What are you expectations, to start in Double-A and go from there?
Singleton: “Double-A, yeah. And just going to work hard enough and if I get called up that’s a bonus.”