Mark Appel (Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)

Is it time to start worrying about Mark Appel?

Mark Appel turns 23 on Tuesday. Many fans expected the top pick in the 2013 draft to be a mainstay in the Astros rotation by his 23rd birthday. Instead, Appel continues to have a nightmare of a season at High-A Lancaster in the California League. Is it time for Astros fans to start worrying?

We all know that Appel suffered a setback early this year when he had to undergo emergency appendectomy surgery. And, when he got off to a slow start, it was easy to fall back on the procedure as an excuse. But, a tired arm and a month long stint at extended spring training later, Appel continues to get lit up by Cal League hitters.

In his most recent outing, on Thursday, Appel surrendered 13 hits and 7 earned runs in only 4 & 1/3 innings. Appel has now made 10 starts for the season, totaling only 36 & 2/3 innings. He has yet to pitch more than five innings in any of those ten starts. Appel has allowed 62 hits and 42 runs. He has 31 strikeouts.

It all adds up to a 9.57 ERA, a .376 BAA, and a 1.964 WHIP for Mark. These certainly aren’t the type of numbers we expected to see. Such depressing numbers might be understandable if Appel was indeed pitching in the big leagues — but not at the High-A level.

Obviously, at this point, Appel is way behind schedule. And, if he doesn’t get things turned around soon, 2013 will go gown as a lost season for the big right-hander. Although it’s probably not time to hit the panic button, I do believe there is cause for concern. Given his draft status, Appel should probably be just about ready to transition to the AAA level at this point in his career.

I understand that every player is unique, and they all develop at a different pace. But top overall picks like Appel are held to a higher standard. Astros fans are already disappointed — and for many, that disappointment is starting to turn into something bigger. Some are starting to wonder if Appel will turn out to be a complete bust.

Ever heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect”. The Astros are hoping that doesn’t turn out to be true. What do you think?


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Tags: Houston Astros Mark Appel

  • JR Carroll

    Honestly it seems that our organization seems to be a little screwed with our top pitching talents. First with MA’s struggles at pretty much the lowest level of pro ball. Now with BA elbow situation and the possibility of not signing. Which in turn would mean we lose at least one and possibly 2 other high school pitching prospects. I have supported our front office completely but it seems we aren’t in as good of hands as we all hoped. Sad day.

    • astrosince1975

      Still almost a week left to get a deal done with Aiken. I still think it will happen.

      • JR Carroll

        How about now with a couple days left and the report coming out this morning that both sides aren’t even close to a deal. The “band of brothers” are probably about to do a number on us.

  • JohnE H-Town

    I have been waiting on this article. His season is very concerning. I hope Aiken works out, if not…… Those are 2 huge potential let downs, that kind of swinging and missing is how you end up in the cellar for years upon years. We are not dead yet, but we need both of these guys signed and producing.

  • JohnE H-Town

    I’m not ready to start a Lunhow hate party yet, I think he has done so well in so many other areas, but you can’t swing and miss with the #1 overall twice in three years. Let’s hope Aiken signs and heals and develops and let’s hope Appel gets things turned around soon. Not to mention let’s hope Correa heals and gets back to work soon too. Seems like all the young pitchers have injury problems these days. Maybe we focus on position 5 tool, guys with the top picks from now on……

    • astrosince1975

      I saw an article yesterday (I can’t remember where, but it was a legitimate site) that suggested that Aiken is healthy and the Astros are just trying to get a discount. But with questions surrounding both of these guys I agree that taking a position player at 1:1 is a much safer option. Thank goodness for Springer. As well as he has done it seems pretty amazing that 10 teams passed on him before we took him.

      • JohnE H-Town

        MLB draft history is littered with similar stories to Springer’s. Trout was drafted 25th overall in ’09. That’s 24 of the worst draft day decisions ever. Happens every year.

      • JohnE H-Town

        Hope Aiken is healthy, I don’t know why the Astros would screw around if there was not some sort of injury though.

      • Kennon Riley

        I think the problem is something similar to the Rays/Orioles dealing of Grant Balfour. There’s something that some doctors see as an issue while some doctors feel that it is normal. They say that Aiken is throwing. I do not see any reasoning to discount the contract if he is able to throw.

    • JR Carroll

      Hopefully from now on we won’t have to worry about what to draft at 1-1

  • sdtitan

    The answer has to be a giant YES!! given that Appel got lit up again tonight…7 ER on 7 hits in 1.2 innings…he is proving to be eminently hittable by high A level ballplayers…is a ML career salvageable at this point?

    • Greg Thurston

      Definitely agree. Another bad start last night is very troubling.