First base could be last spot decided by Astros

First base could be last spot decided by Astros

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- With four players primarily in the running to start at first base for the Astros this season, general manager Jeff Luhnow said Friday the battle for the starting spot will probably last until the end of camp.

Slugger Jon Singleton, touted prospect A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Matt Duffy will get most of the at-bats at first base in the spring as the Astros move on from Chris Carter, who signed with the Brewers. Position players report next week, and first base figures to be a key storyline.

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"We'll see how it goes," Luhnow said. "There will be enough at-bats to give all these players, and ultimately we'll find out who wins the job."

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Reed, who is ranked as baseball's top first-base prospect by MLB.com, will be coming to big league camp for the first time with a chance to win a job. The slugger hit a combined .340 with 34 homers and 127 RBIs between Double-A Corpus Christi and Class A Advanced Lancaster, but the fact he hasn't faced Triple-A pitching could lead the Astros to start him in the Minor Leagues.

"We would have to be convinced that his development is at a point where he contributes to the Major League club right now, and that may happen," Luhnow said. "He's an exciting type of player. We'll have to see how it goes."

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White, the intriguing 25-year-old prospect who hit a combined .325 with 99 RBIs and a .442 on-base percentage last year at Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno, could force his way into the picture with his bat. He struck out 73 times and walked 84. Duffy can play third or first, as can Luis Valbuena.

Singleton, meanwhile, could be seeing his last shot to stick in Houston. He hit .191 with one homer and six RBIs in only 47 at-bats last year with the Astros, but he has proven he can crush Triple-A pitching. Last year, Singleton hit .254 with 25 doubles, 22 homers and 83 RBIs at Triple-A Fresno.

"He'll have an opportunity," Luhnow said. "He demonstrated he can hit Triple-A pitching very well. He's hit 11 home runs in his first year in the big leagues and he'll have every opportunity to play on the team this year, and hopefully he'll take advantage of it."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.