The Corpus Christi Hooks are in for an exciting season.
Mark Appel‘s recovery from emergency appendectomy surgery has delayed his first Spring Training appearance more than most Astros fans would like, but it is a smart move by the organization not to rush him back from any type of injury. He last reportedly threw off a mound last Wednesday, throwing 30 pitches without any discomfort. Before the start of spring, most expected to see him start the year at Double-A. If there aren’t enough innings to go around in what’s left of Spring Training, it could force the Astros to give him a little bit of time at High-A Lancaster before sending him to Double-A.
However, his decision to stay at Stanford an extra year, which ultimately led to him being taken by the Astros number one overall, will pay dividends this season. There will still be somewhat of a learning curve for Appel, but the extra polish he received at Stanford will make the transition a lot smoother. I expect for him to handle his first full season in the minors with consistency as there is not much work left for him to do to reach the majors. Although it may not be completely necessary, there will probably be a brief stop at Triple-A before the call to The Show. Expecting him to work his way through the minors in one season is no tall order for Appel. If the Astros really wanted, they could place him in the Major League starting rotation to begin the season.
Appel posted a 3.79 ERA between Low-A Tri-Cities and High-A Lancaster after playing a full season at Stanford. It may take a few starts for him to get back into shape, but expect similar or better results no matter where he starts the season. A September call-up may very well be due this season for the future Astros’ ace.