The Houston Astros #2 prospect, Mark Appel, recently made his season debut for the Salt River Rafters. After a season that saw him promoted despite a sky-high ERA, Appel knows that he needs to have a strong showing. His first three innings were a step in that direction.
"Appel’s struggles are difficult to explain, because his stuff hasn’t taken a step back from what he showed at Stanford. He throws his fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s, mixing it with a changeup and a slider. Appel throws all of his pitches for strikes and he has ideal size for a right-hander. – mlb.com prospect watch"
Appel’s first inning saw him deal with early control issues. He was elevating his fast ball early which yielded good and bad results. The first batter resulted in a pop out while the second batter hit a double. Following that hit to Brandon Nimmo, Appel walked L.J. Mazzilli. And while Appel was still pitching in the upper half of the zone, he managed to induce an ending inning double play.
His second inning of work saw him mix his pitches a little more. Despite the first batter of the inning, who reached on a hit by pitch, Appel worked quickly to get a pair of strike outs and a fly out.
In the third inning Appel worked around a fielding error to throw a scoreless frame.
His final line was 3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, and 2 SO. Appel himself admitted to early control issues as he threw just 27 of his 47 pitches for strikes.
I think that Appel will continue to pitch well now that he has
experienced pitching in the hitter friendly environment that Lancaster features. Few people would want to go back to his 2014 stats, but I feel like it is worth noting that in roughly the same sample (44 1/3 innings LAN, 39 1/3 innings COR), Appel posted similar strikeout-to-walk ratios. In Lancaster he had 40 strikeouts against 11 walks; Corpus saw 38 strike outs against 13 walks.
In the AFL, I expect Appel to continue posting solid figures from his time in Corpus Christi. He has great stuff and should be able to reach the major leagues at some point during the 2015 season.