Although he lasted until the 20th round of the 1999 amateur draft, Brandon Sing was delighted to be selected by his hometown Chicago Cubs. He spent five seasons moving around from third base to the outfield and, finally, to first base. Nobody would have confused him with a top prospect, but Sing showed a knack for drawing walks and showed enough power to stay on Chicago's radar.
In 2004, everything came together. Sing hit .270/.399/.571 for high-A Daytona and convinced many observers that he had middle-of-the-order potential. The following year, the Cubs promoted him to double-A West Tennessee and added his name to their 40-man roster. Sing lived up to his end of the bargain, posting a .276/.404/.538 batting line.
Unfortunately, this would be the last year that the Cubs considered him one of their top prospects. Entering 2006, Sing suffered a medical problem that affected his performance and caused him to be optioned back to West Tennessee for a second time.
"I had an allergic inflammation in Spring Training with all the dry air in Arizona, which caused bumps under my eyes and on my eyelids. I wear contacts, so it really affected my eyesight. It affected me pretty much all year."
The results spoke for themselves, as Sing struggled to a .203/.339/.340 batting line in 241 at bats. An ill-advised promotion to triple-A Iowa brought about a predictable decline in his performance and Sing hit .177/.307/.344 in his final 96 at bats.
Granted free agency after the season, Sing knew he needed a change of scenery.
"Right when I became a free agent, [the Orioles] contacted me right away," Sing told Inside The Warehouse. "They've been looking for a first baseman and I think my power can help them out. With the Cubs, you have Derrek Lee in front of you and there isn't as much of an opportunity. I was just looking for what was the best fit for me."
Now the starting first baseman for the double-A Bowie Baysox, the 26 year old expects to put his struggles behind him.
"I got it corrected after the season was over. I had lasik [eye surgery], so now I'm just trying to get used to not having to wear contacts."
Although he is off to a disappointing .169/.202/.254 start this season, Sing believes better days lay ahead.
"I'm just trying to get used to the day games and playing underneath the lights. I'm finally starting to get warmed up. I think everything is about to turn around here."
Of course, shifting to a new organization means that his adjustments are not limited to his on-the-field performance.
"It's different going and meeting new people. They don't know me and I don't know them. That's one big step you have to take; you feel like you're getting drafted again. Nothing is really different, though; you got to be a man about your business and that's all you can do."
Brandon Sing may have more than his share of adjustments ahead, but the Orioles feel they're patience will be rewarded. Not surprisingly, Sing agrees.
"I'm getting used to the organization and playing with my new eyesight and I can't wait to turn things around."
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com