The 2012 Prospect Watch on MLB.com lists Houston Astros prospect Johnathan Singleton as the most promising first baseman in all of the minor leagues. After showing his solid power in Double-A Corpus Christi, he is in line to be the parent team's every day first baseman.
But at first, Singleton will find competition by someone who was in his position in the organization not too long ago. Just a few years ago, Brett Wallace was where Jonathan Singleton is.
Before the 2009 and 2010 season, Wallace was considered to be one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball. He was a left-handed hitting first baseman who hit for power, a high average and a terrific OPS.
He was a first round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008 from Arizona State University. He was included in trades from the Cardinals to the Oakland Athletics and to the Toronto Blue Jays and finally the Houston Astros. He played in Triple-A for four organizations before making his big-league debut.
Despite excelling in each level and for each minor league team, success in the big leagues has eluded him.
Some injuries, but mainly inconsistency, have prevented him from being the every day first baseman. His terrific home run power in the minors has translated to 16 over 792 at-bats in the majors. His excellent minor league average and OPS have merely been adequate in Houston.
And now he has competition. Like Wallace, Singleton was acquired from another organization. He came over from the Philadelphia Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade in July of 2011 (via Baseball Reference). Like Wallace, he has shown terrific production up and down the minor league system and projects to be a solid major league player.
Both are left handed, so a platoon is not a possibility.
Singleton could be the young stick that pushes Wallace to yet another organization. Or Wallace could finally blossom with the specter of Singleton looming on the horizon.
Or possibly both Singleton and Wallace might fall short and they would serve as a reminder to everyone that there is a great difference between a prospect and a productive major league player.