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?