OAKLAND -- Astros manager Bo Porter heaped praise Sunday on starting shortstop Jonathan Villar, who has played well on defense this year and is starting to hit. Villar entered Sunday with four hits in his previous seven at-bats and was tied for the team lead in home runs (three) and RBIs (six).
More importantly, Villar has yet to make an error on defense and has largely avoided mental errors on the field and on the bases that plagued him last year.
"I like what I'm seeing," Porter said. "He's attacking the baseball, and I really love the way he's playing defense. [Third-base coach] Pat Listach has done a great job. [Villar] is really honing in and understanding the game really well right now. His attention to detail has gotten better. He's playing with a lot of energy and a lot of passion, and I'm really pleased."
Porter said Villar is taking his work a lot more seriously this season, and he credits second baseman Jose Altuve for helping him in that aspect.
"They have a good relationship," he said. "Altuve's been on him since Spring Training. He's really helped him, watching the way Altuve is going about his business. He's definitely taken the steps we talked about, about being professional and understanding the role you need to work on each and every day. It's pay dividends in his performance."
Singleton's Triple-A tear continues
OAKLAND -- The gaudy numbers first-base prospect Jonathan Singleton has been putting up at Triple-A Oklahoma City this season have certainly been noticed by Astros management. He entered Sunday hitting .343 with seven homers, 23 RBIs and a 1.205 OPS.
Singleton, who was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for the first week of the season, hasn't let up. Since winning the award, he is 10-for-27 (.370) in six games with six extra-base hits, including three homers and eight RBIs. His 23 RBIs lead all of the Minors, while his seven homers also lead the PCL and are second overall in the Minors.
"The most important thing is we're excited he's performing the way he is at Triple-A," assistant general manager David Stearns said. "As [general manager] Jeff [Luhnow] has said before, he doesn't have the Triple-A experience a guy like George [Springer] had when we called him up, but he gained it and he'll continue to gain it.
"More than anything, we're just excited and pleased that he's taken to this challenge the way he has. When we sent him down at Spring Training, we told him he was going to let us know when he was ready to come up here by his performance, and so far he's doing an outstanding job. We'd like to give him more time to continue to work on the aspects of his game that we identified with him that needed some improvement. So far he's addressing them."
Singleton has already surpassed his home run total over 73 games with the RedHawks last season, season in which he missed the first 50 games following a second failed drug test. Singleton also leads the league with 14 extra-base hits and 52 total bases, and ranks second with a .776 slugging percentage and 18 runs scored.
"We're certainly not surprised he has gone down there and done this at Triple-A," Stearns said. "Up until last year, he had been a dominant Minor League player at every single level. The fact he's risen to the occasion there isn't surprising. It's exciting for us, and we're looking forward to that continuing."
• Third baseman Matt Dominguez was out of the starting lineup Sunday for just the second time this season, with Marwin Gonzalez making his second start at third. He also started April 5 for Dominguez.
• Porter said outfielder Alex Presley has improved quite a bit after coming down with an illness on Friday. Porter hoped Presley was the last one bothered by an illness that has affected much of the clubhouse and a few staff members.