Mark Appel (Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports)
It goes without saying that this is an important spring for Appel, but at the same time we don’t want to overstate it either. This will be the first full professional season for the big right-hander, and into it he takes the experience of his 10 starts last season.
After dominating his way through Stanford and earning the right to be the first overall pick, Appel had a combined 3.79 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP last season. He continued his success from Stanford as he showed not only that he can throw hard, but he knows how to pitch.
At times with Quad Cities, Appel made it look easy, and you almost forgot that he began the year in college pitching for Stanford and had a period of inactivity before making his debut with Tri-City. There may be some hyperbole here, but Appel could have pitched in the major leagues last year and probably had some success.
While it is possible that Appel pitches well enough to warrant a spot on the big league roster out of Spring Training, I don’t think it is likely. He very likely could deserve it, but I think the Astros will take it slow with Appel. Or at least kind of slow as I don’t think it is out of the question that we see him in Houston before the year is out.
What has been apparent through interviews with Appel, is that he has the right attitude and is taking the right approach with him into the 2014. That is why he is a future ace.
"Appel’s offseason has been spent primarily at Minute Maid Park, where he’s been working out to get his body and arm in shape.“I’m excited for Spring Training, just to have the experience to be with the Major League guys and compete against some of the best,” he said. “Even though it’s Spring Training, it’s still exciting for me, and I’m hoping it will prepare us for the season.”The first spring camp figures to be quite a learning experience for Appel, who’s considered the club’s top pitching prospect and is ranked as the sixth-best right-handed prospect in baseball.“Honestly, I want to learn as much as I can and work hard and just have a positive attitude,” he said. “Go and give my all every single day. That’s kind of where I’m at, and that’s what my focus is.”"