After being drafted by the Astros a couple of months ago, top prospect Mark Appel was shutdown after Sunday’s start. Appel pitched at two levels for the Astros, Tri Cities (rookie ball) and Quad Cities (low A) and had success in his first season as a pro.
Mark Appel (Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports)
But more importantly, Appel laid the groundwork for next season — pitching in 144 innings combined between professional and college ball which was an increase of 21 from his total last season. Appel will likely begin next season pitching in AA for the Astros with the expectation that he makes an appearance in Houston before the year is out.
10 starts, 38 innings, 3.79 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 33 strikeouts, 9 walks
Granted the competition was at times, below what he faced at Stanford, but Appel still had success in his first foray into professional baseball. More importantly, the future ace looked comfortable. He was able to seamlessly make the leap from college ball, and even get past the layoff between the end of his college season and the signing of his contract.
Now you might ask, why would Appel’s numbers not be better if he is so close to major league ready? But in fact, at most times, Appel did look dominating. Even at the same time though, you could tell that he was a rookie and was going through a learning curve.
Appel consistently had success through his last start which came on Sunday. He pitched five innings as he concluded his season allowing only one run with four hits and three walks while striking out three. Reports stated that velocity was not a concern for him as he was still hitting the mid 90’s and looked consistent with his mechanics. However, his command was a little off, and it makes sense to shut him down and not to force him.
I am in agreement with shutting down Appel maybe a start earlier than a start later. Plus, I think he has done enough to warrant starting next season in AA already this year, that there is no reason for him to increase his innings by more than he already has.