- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer
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Houston Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton, a rising star in the organization and the team's first baseman of the future, has been suspended for the first 50 games of the 2013 season for his second violaton of minor league baseball's drug policy.
Singleton issued an apology Wednesday through his agents, Adam Karon and Matt Sosnick of Sosnick Cobbe Sports. Major League Baseball did not disclose when Singleton's first violation took place.
"I was informed today that I have tested positive for marijuana," Singleton said in the statement. "As a result, I am being suspended for the first 50 games of the 2013 season. I accept the penalty and take full responsibility for my actions. 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."
Luhnow released a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming that the Astros have been informed of Singleton's suspension.
"We are disappointed in the decisions that Jonathan made leading up to this positive test,'' Luhnow said. "Jonathan has expressed regret for his decision and we expect will take the necessary steps to ensure this doesn't happen again. He has owned up to his actions and that is a necessary first step. The Astros will support Jonathan through this difficult time and we hope this example will prevent other athletes from making similar decisions."
Singleton, a Southern California native, received a $200,000 signing bonus from the Philadelphia Phillies as an eighth-round draft pick in 2009. In July 2011, the Phillies traded him to Houston with pitcher Jarred Cosart and two other minor leaguers in exchange for outfielder Hunter Pence.
Singleton hit .284 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs for Double-A Corpus Christi last season at age 20. He went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI in Team USA's 17-5 victory in the All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City in July.
ESPN.com's Keith Law ranked Singleton as the 46th-best prospect in baseball last spring, and Baseball America recently listed him as the Astros' No. 2 prospect behind shortstop Carlos Correa, the first overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Sosnick said that Singleton is "remorseful" over the incident and plans to use it as motivation to come back strong when he returns this season. Singleton had been slated to begin the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
"Jonathan is feeling a lot of embarrassment right now," Sosnick said. "He's incredibly disappointed that he's not going to be able to help his team for the first couple months of the season. If anything, he won't be lacking for motivation to succeed when his suspension is lifted."
1dJesse Rogers and Jerry Crasnick