Astros Spring Training: Mark Appel Impresses Early

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Early in Astros spring training, Mark Appel is making himself known in Astros camp. Appel was a long shot to make the Astros roster out of spring training, but you never know what could happen in the next month. Early reports out of spring training are that he has a more compact motion and has more zip on the ball. At least that’s what Tyler Heineman, Max Stassi, and Roberto Pena keep saying about Mark Appel’s pitches.

Quote from Evan Drellich’s article on Appel; “He’s trying to work on the four-seamer up, trying to get some swing-and-miss on the fastball up,” Heineman said afterward. “He’s constantly trying to get his delivery, making sure that his delivery’s short with the runner on base. It gets everything going for him and misses are a lot smaller.”

Heineman went on to say that he caught Appel in Corpus Christi last year, and he is a different pitcher than he was at the end of the season. With his more compact delivery, he is able to better control his pitches. He may not be perfect, but when he misses, he does not miss as bad as he has in the past.

Live Batting Practice

On Thursday during live batting practice, Roberto Pena was catching Mark Appel as Marwin Gonzalez stepped into the batter’s box. During the pitching session, Pena and Gonzalez both started talking about a pitch that Appel just threw, which Gonzalez said had some late movement.

From Jose De Ortiz’s article, “That was like 97 miles per hour, and his changeup is like 91 miles per hour,” Pena told Gonzalez. Appel threw all of his pitches, his two-seam and four-seam fastballs as well as his changeup and slider.

Here are some quotes from Appel about his session, from De Jesus Ortiz’s article;

“I have zero clue how hard I was throwing. I’m not too concerned about the velocity,” Appel said. “I just want to throw the pitches more where I want to. I felt pretty good. It was the first time out.”

“You’ve just been preparing for the season, so it’s just another day closer to the start of the season and reaching my goal of making the big leagues. I felt pretty good about it. A couple of inconsistencies here and there, but overall, I felt it was a pretty good day.”

What would Appel have to do to make the team?

The spring games start next week, and when those are underway, all of the auditions for the 25-man roster start as well. Will the Astros really give Appel a chance to start the season, even if he has an outstanding spring? What would Appel’s final stats have to be to force the Astros hands?

A prediction: 17 innings/ 2.50 ERA/ 20 strikeouts

If Mark Appel is able to pitch like that, it would be hard for the Astros to send him down. He would have also have outperformed almost every starting pitching candidate’s 2014 numbers from last spring. If he only pitches 9 innings this spring, I don’t see him making the team out of spring training.

Regardless of where he lands when camp breaks, Appel’s star is ready to shine. Let’s bring on the games, so some of the topics bloggers have discussed all offseason will begin to unravel.

Next: Phone Interview with Evan Drellich

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