Corpus Christi Hooks: Mark Appel’s Stock Sliding?
By Jason Burke
The Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks lost Carlos Correa to Triple-A Fresno last week and haven’t missed a beat in his absence. Since last Tuesday, the Hooks’ first game without the Houston Astros’ prized shortstop of the future, the Hooks are 6-0 which included a four-game sweep of the Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers) over the weekend. Their record currently sits at 25-12 and they hold a five game lead over second place Midland (A’s).
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First, we’ll start with the bad news. Andrew Aplin was demoted from Fresno to Corpus on Friday after batting .200 in 23 games (75 at bats) for the Grizzlies. The good news concerning Aplin is that he is 5-for-10 with the Hooks in three games and has an on-base percentage of .643. Obviously it’s only one weekend’s worth of game action, but after spending 98 games with Corpus last season, followed by another 28 in Triple-A, a strong showing early could be all Aplin needs to find himself back with Fresno.
Tony Kemp started off the week strong with four consecutive multiple hit games, totaling ten hits, but has gone hitless in his last two games. Kemp’s batting average is sitting at a solid .339 which is second on the team behind DH Tyler White‘s .342 in just 76 at bats. Technically Kemp is also behind Aplin and Correa as well, but with Kemp having only played three games and Correa now in Fresno, we’ll give Kemp a solid second.
The starting pitching for the Hooks has been fantastic this season as you may have guessed, with Lance McCullers Jr. being promoted to Houston over the weekend. McCullers also made his major league debut last night, which you undoubtedly watched.
The Hooks pitching staff as a whole is tops in the Texas League with a 3.20 ERA with Chris Devenski (0.53), Josh Hader (3.14) and Mike Hauschild (3.58) leading the way in the rotation. One name that is notably absent from this list is that of Mark Appel, who is currently sitting on a 3-0 record and a 4.70 ERA. It should come as no surprise that since Appel has the highest ERA of this bunch, that he has also issued the most walks of the group (14) as well.
In Appel’s start against Frisco on Friday, the 23 year old righty lasted just four innings, tossing 81 pitches (43 strikes). He allowed five walks and six hits that allowed five runs to cross the plate, but Appel received a no-decision.
Compare that line with those of Hader (4 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 3 K), Devenski (5 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 4 K) and Hauschild (4 IP, 2 hits, 2 K) and there are plenty of other pitchers besides Appel that may have an inside track on getting the next promotion. What the former number one overall selection has going for him is that his name brings excitement to the fan base, and hearing that he’s getting closer could put more butts in the seats at Minute Maid Park. It’ll take a slew of solid outings for this move to be considered however.
The Corpus Christi Hooks are riding high, and they’re at home through the 25th, with three games remaining against San Antonio (Padres), followed by four against Midland. If you need a reason to go besides cheering for the Hooks, Midland’s 21 year old first baseman Matt Olson led the California League in homers last season. The Hooks’ pitching against this young slugger will be a very intriguing matchup.