Singleton to Work Way Back
Jonathan Singleton, the Astros top prospect who has missed the first 50 games of the season due to suspension, is set to return at the end of the month, but he won't immediately begin at Double-A Corpus Christi where he finished last season or Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he would have began the season if not suspended, says Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Instead, Singleton will begin his 2013 campaign in Low-A Quad Cities.
The Astros want to ease Singleton back into competitive baseball without throwing him into a level he's yet to reach, and that's a sound strategy, but it could have secondary benefit for the Astros. With their 2013 season going nowhere, the slower they move Singleton along, the easier it will be to hold him off from the majors until they are closer to competition. Had he been eligible to begin the season on time, he would likely be pushing his way towards a late-season call-up. Thanks to his inability to stop smoking weed, the Astros can justify bringing him along slowly this season and leave him in Triple-A for the remainder of the season.
I discussed the character issues surrounding his inability to stop smoking after his first failed test (it takes two failed tests to get suspended), but in the long run, as long as Singleton can stay out of trouble, his suspension could actually work out in the Astros favor, in terms of timing his assent to the majors with their own organizational development.
Almora to Kane County
Cubs fans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Albert Almora to a league where they can put some stock in the results, but their wait is finally over. The 2012 first-rounder has missed the beginning of the 2013 season due to a broken hamate bone in his hand, but his time in extended spring training is over and he's heading to Low-A Kane County, says The Cub Reporter.
Almora has shown glimpses of the ability that got him selected sixth overall last season, but his time in the Midwest League will be the first chance to show how his tools will translate against an advanced level of competition.
Stroman Has Successful Return
Marcus Stroman made his 2013 debut on Sunday with five innings of scoreless baseball, during which he struck out six, notes Evan Peaslee of MLB.com. Stroman has been suspended for the first 50 games of the season for failing a drug test for a performance-enhancing substance, which is a different violation than Singleton's, despite the same penalty.
It's worth noting that the Blue Jays plan to keep the 5-foot-9 Stroman as a starter for the time being, which makes sense in an attempt to maximize his ceiling. Just because he's short doesn't mean he can't be a starter, despite the accepted convention within baseball, and at the very least, using him as one in the minors will give him more developmental experience even if he ends up as a reliever down the road.