Prospect Singleton excited for playoffs
Slugger looking to help lead Class A Lakewood to SAL title
It's been a long first professional season for Phillies first base prospect Jonathan Singleton.
And this week, as his Class A Lakewood BlueClaws begin their quest for a second straight South Atlantic League title, it's about to get even longer.
And while Singleton, an eighth-round pick of the Phillies in 2009, isn't complaining one bit about the extension, he admits that his go-round through 100-plus games has been a grind.
"It's been a long season," Singleton said. "It's very tiring. This is the the first time I've played this many games, but I love it."
The Lakewood, Calif., native has had more to deal with in his first season than most, as the subject of many trade rumors before the big league Non-Waiver Trade Deadline. As Philly looked to acquire front-line starter Roy Oswalt from Houston, Singleton's name was bandied about as a possible return. But he handled it with the poise of a seasoned pro, choosing to focus on the only thing he could control: his game.
"I was aware of it," Singleton said. "I wasn't going to let it bother me. I wasn't thinking about it too much -- just go out and play the game of baseball."
And he did, hitting a blistering .373 prior to the SAL All-Star break, and the Phillies chose to keep their talented prospect in the fold. His fast start lifted the BlueClaws, who secured their playoff spot by finishing at the top of the Northern Division in the first half.
Singleton felt himself hitting a wall in the past month, his body wearing down. The numbers reflected his fatigue as well, especially in the power department. Singleton slugged 10 of his home runs in May and June, and only four combined in July and August. A change was needed.
For Singleton, who seemingly exceeded expectations with strong offensive numbers throughout his first full season, including a batting average that hovered around .300 and a slugging percentage just below .500, doing the necessary things to stay fresh has been an adjustment. It's one he's willing to make to stay fresh for a playoff run.
"There was a point when I got tired and I just had to slow it down for a couple weeks from not taking as many swings and not lifting as hard," Singleton said. "You have to be really positive. It really has an effect on you."
Now, Singleton is ready to go for the playoffs.
"Most definitely, this will be the first chance I have to win a championship," Singleton said. "I think we have a pretty good chance of winning the championship, if we play our game like we've been playing all year."
For Lakewood, who sits around the middle of the pack in offense in the SAL, offensive production will be crucial to a strong opening in the playoffs. A rock-solid pitching staff, led by 2008 fourth-round Draft pick Trevor May and 2008 third-rounder Jonathan Pettibone, sets the BlueClaws up nicely in a three-game series, but the offense will have to perform closer to its first-half level than its performance of late.
With Singleton's supporting cast, including shortstop Jonathan Villar and catcher Sebastian Valle, at the ready, the BlueClaws could be primed for a deep playoff push toward the SAL title.
"I feel good about our position players," Singleton said. "They're all good, they can all come through when we need them. ... I think we have a pretty good shot."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.