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Singleton returns, homers in '13 debut
Astros top prospect goes yard in first at-bat for River Bandits
05/29/2013 12:51 AM ET
Singleton had 52 extra-base hits in 131 games last season.
Singleton had 52 extra-base hits in 131 games last season. (Sean Flynn Photography)

Tuesday did not get off to the best start for Jonathan Singleton. But once he finally got back in the batter's box, it was like the slugging first baseman had never left.

The Astros' top prospect homered in his first at-bat and ended up going 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs in Class A Quad Cities' 7-5 rain-shortened win over Kane County. It was his first appearance since serving a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

"I felt a little bit [nervous]," said Singleton, who tested positive for marijuana. "I tried to just relax and take a deep breath and go out there and play hard."

Singleton, MLB.com's No. 25 overall prospect, missed his early-morning flight Tuesday morning and didn't arrive at Modern Woodmen Park until around 6 p.m. He got into uniform for the 7 p.m. start, serving as the River Bandits' designated hitter.

Singleton slugged the first-inning homer off Cubs prospect Dillon Maples (0-1), driving a two-strike pitch out to the opposite field.

"Honestly, I was just up there trying to swing the bat hard," he said. "Two strikes, just trying to put the ball in play. I wasn't really thinking too much, which is a good thing. Normally, I think a lot when I come back from something like that, and it's my first time playing under the lights. But it's a good day today."

The left-handed hitter slugged 21 homers in 131 games with Double-A Corpus Christi last season, positing an .893 OPS. Acquired from the Phillies with pitchers Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid and outfielder Domingo Santana for Hunter Pence at the 2011 trade deadline, Singleton has become a prize piece of the Astros system.

Singleton, who had never played in the Midwest League before Tuesday, was joined on the field by Astros No. 2 prospect -- and last year's No. 1 overall Draft pick -- Carlos Correa as well as No. 5 prospect Lance McCullers and No. 8 prospect Rio Ruiz.

"This is the first time I've played on the same field as them," he said. "They're very good ballplayers and they're exciting to watch."

Singleton had been in extended spring training in Kissimmee, Fla., working primarily on his defense and getting stronger in the weight room. He is on assignment with Quad Cities and said the plan is for him to spend time with the River Bandits and with Double-A Corpus Christi before moving up to Triple-A Oklahoma City for the rest of the season. The 21-year-old was slated to head to Triple-A before he was suspended.

Singleton said he expects to play first base on Wednesday.

"I was pretty anxious," he admitted. "I actually didn't get too much sleep, but once I got to the ballpark today, I was calmed down a little bit. Once I got the uniform on, I was ready to go."

Correa, ranked No. 28 among MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects, also had two hits and drove in runs. He's 5-for-9 with seven RBIs in his last two contests. McCullers (1-4) appeared in relief and picked up his first professional win, striking out three and walking one in a scoreless inning.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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