Minor-League Monday: Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton

Changing things up a little this week, I’ll write a post today, tomorrow, and Wednesday detailing some of the major prospects moved over the past few days.

Ed Wade stated from the beginning that it would take an impressive haul for him to trade away Hunter Pence. As the trade deadline neared, the two main suitors appeared to be the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies. From the Braves, Wade wanted two of the top 4 pitching prospects Atlanta has (Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Minor, and Randall Delgado), but Atlanta GM Frank Wren appeared unwilling to trade more than one of them. Ruben Amaro, the Phillies GM, eventually consented to trading his two top 50 prospects in Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton.

Jarred Cosart came into the season as one of the Phillies top pitching prospects, and he was going to be part of a star-studded cast at High-A Clearwater. The others, however, either suffered injuries or haven’t pitched as well as hoped. Cosart might fit into the latter category, but his stuff has improved, leading scouts to believe that the results will come. Top prospects don’t usually have 3.92 ERAs and less than 2 K/BB ratios, but the stuff is hard to ignore.

Cosart starts from a simple wind-up, and while it is fairly simple and repeatable, he lands a little stiff and has some head whip at the end, indicating some effort in his delivery. From that wind-up, Cosart launches a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can touch the upper 90s. His curveball is just as devastating, this time unfairly dropping about 20 mph and with movement almost as drastic. The change-up is just okay, but it shouldn’t hinder his development as a starter. There is some concern about Cosart remaining a starter, however. There’s some effort in his delivery, and elbow trouble last season caused some concern. He hasn’t had those issues this season, and with a 6-3, 180 pound frame, I think Cosart will hold up. If not, the fastball-curveball combo makes him a late-inning reliever.

Jonathan Singleton was the other major prospect, though he hasn’t played like it this season. His .289/.389/.417 line in Clearwater is excellent from a BA and OBP standpoint, but one wonders where the power is. After trying a move to left field, Singleton is essentially locked into first base, and if he’s locked in there, he needs to really mash. Singleton won’t be 20 until September, so that power still has plenty of time to develop.

And Singleton has the frame to develop power. Already 6-2 and 215 pounds, Singleton has plenty of size. His mechanics look fairly simple at the plate, but the Phillies tried to change them slightly earlier in the season, possibly causing his slow start. In the past month or so, he’s gone back to using his old mechanics, which seem fine to me, and hit much better. Singleton has plenty of raw power, and he seems to have an advanced approach for his age, which is leading to plenty of walks, but his tendency to pull pitches has led some teams to already start utilizing shifts against him, which isn’t normal at lower levels. He already has the potential to be an elite offensive prospect (his defense is just decent as of now), but taking a few the other way may help his development.

The Astros certainly received a lot of potential in return for Pence. Cosart has the stuff to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, though I wouldn’t put an ace tag on him until that change-up improves, and Singleton could be an excellent first baseman. The only problem with having these two as the centerpieces of a deal is that they are so far away. Both players may not arrive before late in 2013 or early 2014 at the earliest, and a lot of scenarios can transpire between here and there. When giving away your franchise player, you usually would like some impact talent close to the majors, but even without that, the Astros got a lot of talent, though a lot of risk as well.