CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jonathan Singleton leaned over the railing on the visitors dugout at Bright House Field and stared. The Phillies were taking batting practice in the stadium where Singleton began his 2011 season.
"Hey, J!" John Mayberry Jr. yelled as he ran past.
"How you doing?" Singleton said.
Singleton turned 20 in September and he was a Houston Astro by then. The former Phillies top prospect, traded for Hunter Pence last July, is enjoying life in an organization emphasizing youth.
"It takes time to get used to it and adjust," Singleton said. "But so far, I'm loving it."
His path to the majors is no longer blocked like it was in Philadelphia by Ryan Howard. Singleton will start 2012 in double A and it's not so far-fetched to think he could be in the majors come 2013.
Houston is starting Carlos Lee at first base in 2012, but he's a free agent at season's end. And the Astros will also need a designated hitter in 2013 when they move to the American League.
Singleton said he was honored to be traded for an All-Star like Hunter Pence.
"It shows that other teams are interested in me," Singleton said. "They'll give me an opportunity to show my skills. I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Not that the Phillies weren't interested in Singleton. He was the team's top position player prospect before the Pence deal. For the season, Singleton hit .298 with a stellar .392 on-base percentage as one of the youngest players in single A. His numbers even improved following the trade.
He'll begin the season in double A and spend most of his time at first base. The Phillies had tried Singleton in left field but abandoned that experiment about a month into the season.
The transition was eased by the fact that Singleton saw so many familiar faces. He played with Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana at Lakewood. Now they're all Astros.
"I'm excited there are a lot of younger players," Singleton said. "They can bond together and when they become older, the team gets better. That's what I think, at least."
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