Baseball Lakewood LB In MLB Long Beach State Millikan Wilson

LB in MLB: Long-Awaited Big League Return Highlights Eventful Start To MLB Season

It took nearly eight years, but Jon Singleton made it back to the big leagues last week. The Millikan High grad was a top prospect when he made his MLB debut at 22 years old with the Houston Astros in 2014, but after appearing in 114 games the next two seasons, he’s had a long wait to get back to The Show. 

Singleton started at first base for the Milwaukee Brewers last Saturday in Cincinnati, going 1-for-4 with a run scored in Milwaukee’s 10-8 win.

“It’s definitely rewarding,” Singleton told reporters after making his return. “There’s been a lot of hard work that I’ve put in. There’s been a lot of things I’ve done emotionally, physically and spiritually to get to this point. Very, very grateful.”

Singleton, now 31, will be one of the more unique stories of this MLB season, and he was not the only player with Long Beach ties in his return to the big leagues. Believe it or not, his counterpart at first base, starting for the Reds and batting fifth, was another Millikan High grad in Spencer Steer.

Steer had two hits, two RBIs, and a pair of stolen bases for the Reds, as he continues to heat up in his first full season. The 25-year-old corner infielder has settled into the middle of the Cincinnati batting order, and has a team-leading 8 home runs through 56 games this season. Steer is hitting .288 with a .491 slugging percentage and is part of an exciting youth movement for the Reds. He’s gotten better as the season has progressed, hitting .318 with 6 homers in May.

Another aside from that Brewers-Reds game from last Saturday: rookie outfielder Blake Perkins hit his first career home run in that game for the Brewers, a grand slam in the third inning that brought Singleton and two others home to score. Perkins played his freshman year at Long Beach Wilson High before moving to Arizona, giving him a local connection as well.

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Reigning NL Batting Champ Jeff McNeil is having another solid season with the Mets, ranking second on the team with 60 hits so far. The utilityman and Long Beach State product has a .282 average and .357 on-base, which also rank second on the team. 

In Boston, Long Beach native Justin Turner has settled into the 3-spot in the Red Sox order. The 38-year-old has played three different infield spots this season and has 31 runs scored, 6 homers and 25 RBIs through June 4.

Former Dirtbag Evan Longoria is providing a reliable power source for the surging Arizona Diamondbacks. Longo has 8 homers through his first 97 at-bats this season, hitting .283 with a .911 OPS against left-handed pitching.

Another LBSU alum is finding success in a new home, as Garrett Hampson has carved out a nice role with the Miami Marlins. Playing in the same city where he played his final game as a Dirtbag during the 2016 NCAA Regionals, Hampson has established himself as a versatile utilityman for the Marlins, playing eight or more games at second base, shortstop, center field and right field.

Hampson’s former double play partner in Long Beach, Jarren Duran, got off to a blistering start when he was called up by the Boston Red Sox, hitting nearly .400 with a 1.061 OPS through his first 13 games in April. Duran has cooled off since, but has also shown improved instincts in center field along with elite speed to make him an interesting piece for the Red Sox going forward.

Lakewood and Long Beach State alum Matt Duffy has been a solid bench bat in his first season with the Kansas City Royals. The Duff Man is hitting .314 with 22 hits in his first 70 at-bats while splitting his playing time between second base and third base.

Two other Lakewood Lancers continue to do their thing on quality teams. Shortstop J.P. Crawford remains an integral piece for the Seattle Mariners, where he’s been hitting leadoff against righties this season. The gold-glover is getting on base at a .347 clip this season, which would be his best career mark with the Mariners. 

In Atlanta, Lakewood alum Travis d’Arnaud is back from a concussion he suffered early in the season. The veteran backstop is batting .278 through his first 72 at-bats, part of a prolific offense for the Braves.

Wilson High’s Aaron Hicks switched teams mid-season and is looking to take advantage of a fresh start with the Baltimore Orioles. After he was released by the Yankees, their AL East rivals scooped up Hicks and immediately put him in their lineup. The 33-year-old outfielder went 2-for-2 in his first game with his new club, and has started 5-for-11 with a triple through his first weekend in Baltimore.

Another former Wilson Bruin, RHP Chase De Jong, has battled through injuries this season. The 29-year-old reliever has had two stints in the big leagues in 2023, and was just called back up by the Pittsburgh Pirates to return to their bullpen.

Long Beach State grad Darren McCaughan also got to make his return to The Show this season. After debuting in 2021, McCaughan has filled in for two relief appearances for the Seattle Mariners so far in 2023. He tossed an inning against the Brewers on Apr. 17 before collecting 6 strikeouts over 3 innings against the Yankees on May 30.

Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.