Former Phillies prospect Singleton suspended 50 games

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Former Phillies prospect Singleton suspended 50 games

Jonathan Singleton, the ascending first base power prospect the Phillies sent to the Astros as part of the 2011 Hunter Pence deal, tested positive for marijuana, he said in a statement released Wednesday, according to MLB.com.

It's a 50-game suspension for Singleton, now a two-time offender. Singleton was the centerpiece of the 2011 Phillies trade with Houston for Pence. The 20-year-old lefty hit .298.392.441 the year of the trade, and this past season hit .284 with a .396 OBP and .497 slugging percentage in his first full season in the Astros' system with Double A Corpus Christie.

"I accept the penalty and take full responsibility for my actions, Singleton said. I apologize to my parents, the Houston Astros and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

The Astros have been nothing but supportive of me and good to me in my short time with the organization. My hope is to use this as a learning experience and spend the rest of my career proving to myself and the baseball community that this was a lapse in judgment, and is not in any way indicative of my character or my dedication to baseball or to my team.

Players on the 40-man rosters of big-league teams are not tested for marijuana, as pointed out by HardballTalk. Singleton, though, wasnt on Houstons 40-man roster.

Singleton was the minors' 34th-best prospect prior to 2012, as rated by Baseball America. Five spots up from No. 39 the previous year. ESPNs Keith Law has him as Houstons second-best prospect.

The Phillies sent Singleton, outfielder Domingo Santana and righthanders Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid to Houston for Pence, who they then traded 367 days later to the Giants for catcher Tommy Joseph, pitcher Seth Rosin and veteran outfielder Nate Schierholtz.

Schierholtz was later non-tendered, meaning the Phillies in essence dealt ...

Singleton,
Santana (2012: .302 batting average, 25 HR and 97 RBI at High-A),
Cosart (6-7, 3.30 ERA, 7.2 K9 in 114.1 innings at AA and AAA), and
Zeid (5.59 ERA, 10.5 strikeouts-per-nine in 47 appearances at Double A)

... for San Franciscos prospects and two half-seasons of Pence, one of which led to a franchise-record 102 wins but a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Cardinals.

The Phillies gave up serious talent in the Pence trade. Santana, the deals player to be named later, is an athletic 19-year-old rightfielder from the Dominican Republic with a strong arm, who had a .921 OPS last season at High-A. The Phils dont have many impact bats in their own system, in part because they dealt two to Houston.

For all the heat former Phillies and Astros GM Ed Wade now a special consultant with the Phils takes for what were once deemed lopsided trades to the Phils, a look back shows a pair that worked out very well for the Astros.

In all, the Phillies traded Wades Astros: Singleton, Santana, Cosart, Zeid, four years of Michael Bourn, Anthony Gose (flipped for Brett Wallace), shortstop Jonathan Villar, J.A. Happ, Geoff Geary and Mike Costanzo for Brad Lidge, Eric Bruntlett, Roy Oswalt and Pence.

Salary relief, four projectable major-leaguers and three current big-leaguers in Bourn, Gose and Happ for Lidge, Bruntlett, Oswalt and Pence. The deals are basically equal. Lidge was a key figure in the 2008 World Series, Pence was on a Phils team that went 36-21 in the second half of 11, Oswalt was 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in the second half of 2010 and Bruntlett turned an unassisted triple play and hit a World Series home run off David Price. And Houston, which has lost 213 games the last two years and will play its first year in the American League West in 2013, has the makings of its next core.

Singleton will be eligible to return the final week of May.
E-mail Corey Seidman at cseidman@comcastsportsnet.com

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Another chance to solve the ageless Bartolo Colon

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Another chance to solve the ageless Bartolo Colon

Phillies (59-68) at Mets (64-63)
7:10 p.m. on CSN

On Day 1 of the post-Carlos Ruiz Era, the Phillies are at Citi Field to begin a three-game series with the Mets. 

Let's take a look:

1. Quick audition for Alfaro
Jorge Alfaro will reportedly be called up by the Phillies in time for Friday's game against the Mets. He might not be up long, though, as catcher A.J. Ellis is expected to join the Phils this weekend.

Phillies GM Matt Klentak spoke Thursday night about the importance of receiving Ellis from the Dodgers in the Ruiz trade. Like Chooch, Ellis is known for his game-calling ability. With Cameron Rupp being more of an offensive-minded catcher, the need still exists for a vet like Ellis.

Alfaro is regarded as the top catching prospect in baseball by MLB.com, and he will likely be called up again in mid-September, but for now the promotion seems more need-based than anything else. The Phillies need a backup catcher until Ellis arrives and Alfaro was the only catcher other than Rupp on the 40-man roster. The move made sense.

2. Yet another meeting with Colon
The Phillies face 43-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon for the fourth time this season and 13th time since he joined the Mets in 2014. 

Colon (11-7, 3.36) has lost fastball velocity each season since 2011. His heater averaged 91.7 mph that season and is all the way down to 87.7 this year. But he remains effective because he commands that fastball as well as any pitcher in baseball. Colon throws one of his two fastballs a whopping 89 percent of time. His pitch distribution this season has been 65 percent two-seamers, 24 percent four-seamers, seven percent sliders and four percent changeups.

The Phillies just haven't been able to solve Colon the last several years. In his starts against them as a Met, Colon is 8-3 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Nine of the 12 were quality starts.

Colon has a 2.25 ERA in four August starts, but he's been hittable. His opponents have hit .320 this month, but Colon has beared down with men on base.

Current Phillies have hit .229 against him with four home runs, three of which belong to Ryan Howard.

3. Morgan looks to build momentum
Adam Morgan has had a rough time in the majors in 2016, going 1-7 with a 6.21 ERA, but he's coming off his best start since early May. He allowed one run in six innings vs. the Cardinals last Friday. It was his first time pitching six innings in his last seven starts.

Morgan has faced the Mets just once, last season. He allowed five runs and 11 baserunners in 3⅔ innings.

Morgan has shown he's better than his opponents at Triple A, but in the majors he's had a lot of trouble retiring righties. They've hit .300 with 67 extra-base hits and an .887 OPS in 533 plate appearances. He's essentially made all right-handed hitters look like last year's version of Nolan Arenado.

4. Power at first
The Phillies' first base production has increased since the All-Star break as Howard has gotten hot. But Tommy Joseph continues to hit for power when given the opportunity to play, hitting his 17th homer Wednesday night in Chicago.

Since 2000, only seven players have more homers than Joseph in their first 75 games: Jose Abreu, Ryan Braun, Adam Dunn, George Springer, Albert Pujols, Trevor Story and Wilin Rosario. 

The Phillies lead the majors with 33 home runs from their first basemen. (Howard and Joseph have a combined 36, but three of them came when one was either pinch-hitting or DH'ing.)

Howard, by the way, is up to .199. A 1-for-3 game would get him above the Mendoza line for the first time since April 30.

5. This and that
• Setup man Hector Neris leads the majors with 64 appearances, but he's only getting better as the season progresses. In his last 18⅓ innings, he's allowed one run (0.49 ERA) and 11 baserunners (0.60 WHIP). He's struck out 26 and walked two.

• The Mets are third in the National League with 165 home runs but 13th in runs. It's a boom-bust offense that has gone bust far too often this season. The Mets rank 29th in team batting average (.241) and 27th in on-base percentage (.309).

• Yoenis Cespedes returned last Friday from a quad injury and has hit since, going 8 for 25 with three homers and two doubles.

• Travis d'Arnaud has always been a highly regarded catcher, and he's healthy now, but he's missed so much time over the last few years that the Mets can't be certain he's their catcher of the future. The 27-year-old was traded by the Phillies to the Blue Jays in December 2009 in the Roy Halladay deal and then shipped to the Mets three years later with Noah Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey. D'Arnaud showed flashes last season, when he hit .268/.340/.485, but he averaged 88 games in 2014-15 and has played in just 54 this season.

Phillies call up catching prospect Jorge Alfaro; likely for short stay

Phillies call up catching prospect Jorge Alfaro; likely for short stay

Prized catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is coming to the Phillies. But likely not for long.

Alfaro on Friday was promoted from Double A Reading to the majors, joining the Phillies in New York for their series against the Mets at Citi Field.

Alfaro, already on the Phillies' 40-man roster, is not expected to stick. He gets the call-up with the Phillies' trade of Carlos Ruiz on Thursday night. Veteran catcher A.J. Ellis, a part of the Ruiz deal, is not yet with the Phillies but is expected to join them this weekend.

Alfaro is a strong candidate to be called up again in mid-September once Reading is finished with the Eastern League playoffs, as explained in this week's Future Phillies Report.

The 23-year-old Alfaro was acquired by the Phillies from the Rangers in last summer's Cole Hamels trade. He's ranked as baseball's top catching prospect by MLBPipeline.com with Gary Sanchez having graduated to the Yankees.

Known for his power potential and big throwing arm, Alfaro has hit .279/.321/.442 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. He's thrown out 31 of 70 would-be base stealers, 44 percent.

CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman contributed to this post.

Best of MLB: Giants' Matt Moore loses no-hitter in 9th of win over Dodgers

Best of MLB: Giants' Matt Moore loses no-hitter in 9th of win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- San Francisco lefty Matt Moore lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth inning on a soft, clean single by Corey Seager, and the Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 Thursday night.

Moore's try ended on his 133rd and final pitch -- he missed most of the last two seasons after Tommy John surgery. He was immediately pulled after Seager's hit plopped onto the grass in shallow right field.

Giants center fielder Denard Span sprinted for two outstanding catches, including a leadoff grab in the ninth, to give Moore a chance.

Moore earned his first win for the Giants since they got him in a trade with Tampa Bay on Aug. 1.

Moore nearly gave San Francisco a major league record five straight years with a no-hitter. And he almost became the first Giants pitcher to no-hit the archrival Dodgers since 1915, when New York's Rube Marquard stopped Brooklyn (see full recap).

De Aza sparks Mets' win over Cardinals
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright lost his glove trying to tag out Yoenis Cespedes and lost the game, too, when Alejandro De Aza homered and drove in five runs to send the New York Mets over St. Louis 10-6 Thursday night.

Seth Lugo (1-2) pitched five scoreless innings for his first big league win. The Mets took two of three to win their first series at Busch Stadium since 2008.

Brandon Moss hit two home runs for the Cardinals and Jedd Gyorko and Stephen Piscotty also connected.

The Mets led 3-0 in the fifth when Wainwright (9-8) and Cespedes were involved in a bizarre play.

Cespedes tried to go from first to third on a bloop single by James Loney. When several Cardinals chased the ball, Wainwright covered third base. Cespedes slid and his cleat pinned Wainwright's glove to the bag -- he would've been out, but when Wainwright pulled away his hand, the mitt stayed stuck under Cespedes' foot.

Because Wainwright didn't control the ball, Cespedes was called safe in a ruling upheld by replay. Moments later, De Aza hit a three-run homer to make it 7-0 (see full recap).

Scherzer's arm, Harper's bat help Nats blank O's
WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer allowed two hits over eight innings and Bryce Harper's two-run double helped the Washington Nationals avoid a four-game home-and-home sweep with a 4-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.

Scherzer (14-7) struck out 10 and did not walk a batter. He retired 12 straight after Adam Jones's fourth-inning double and 21 of 22 before Mark Trumbo's leadoff single in the eighth.

Jayson Werth's solo home run staked Washington to a 1-0 lead. Daniel Murphy's RBI double in the eighth came before Harper's second hit helped the Nationals pull away.

The Nationals had lost four straight including three in a row to the Orioles, who won twice in Baltimore before the teams shifted to Washington.

Ubaldo Jimenez (5-11) allowed one run and five hits over six innings (see full recap).

Escobar pushes surging Royals past Marlins
MIAMI -- Alcides Escobar homered and drove in two runs to lead the surging Kansas City Royals past the Miami Marlins 5-2 on Thursday night.

Salvador Perez and Kendrys Morales also drove in runs for the Royals as the defending World Series champions have won 15 of 18 to pull within four games of the second AL wild card spot.

Kansas City starter Edison Volquez (10-10) pitched five innings and allowed two runs, both unearned, and three hits.

The Royals' bullpen, which has been a successful formula for the reigning two-time AL pennant winners, pitched four scoreless innings to push their franchise-record scoreless streak to 38 2-3 innings -- the best in the majors since 2002-03 when San Francisco tossed 39 1-3 straight.

Kelvin Herrera pitched a flawless ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances.

Tom Koehler (9-9) allowed four runs, three earned, and seven hits in six innings for the Marlins (see full recap).