Mark Appel (Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)
Mark Appel is getting closer. This is true both in geography and on the organizational depth chart. We received word from Reid Ryan, through Greg Rajan, that Appel will begin the 2014 season pitching for the AA Corpus Christi Hooks.
There is obviously a lot of baseball to be played and Appel only has ten professional starts under his belt, but this sets up last year’s first overall pick to end his season in Houston.
After making his professional debut pitching for Low-A Tri City, Appel made eight starts last season in A ball with Quad Cities. Between the two levels, Appel had a record of 3-1 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while striking out 33 batters in 38 innings. Appel certainly had success last year, but he was not the dominant pitcher he has the talent to be. By no means is this a bad thing, as we did see flashes of that dominance, and making the adjustment to professional baseball is not easy.
Having Appel skip Lancaster was the right move. It is a clear hitter’s park, and Appel’s development would not be enhanced by spending time there. Based on everything we have seen from the right-hander so far, he is a polished pitcher beyond his years. Pitching against older and better competition will aid in his development and give the Astros a better look at what they have in Appel.
I think Appel will make at minimum of 10 starts for the Hooks, but his performance will dictate whether or not we see him in Houston before the year is out.