Astros Minors Report: Placing a value on Mark Appel


What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name, Mark Appel? The first thing that comes to most Astros fans mind is “We could have had Kris Bryant instead!” That’s a bad sign when a former number one overall pick gets compared to the guy taken with the third pick with regret. I’m sure the Astros knew what type of talent Bryant had, but they probably liked the pitching potential with Appel. What is the current value of the Astros second ranked prospect at the beginning of the season?

It has been a rocky 2015 season so far for Appel with some ups and downs. The former number one draft pick has not lived up to expectations so far, and the Astros have been accused of babying him as well. Whatever has happened in the past, the truth is that Appel is currently at Triple-A Fresno, and could be a few solid starts away from reaching his dream of pitching for the Houston Astros or someone else.

But wait, according to Bleacher Report’s Each MLB Buyer’s Best Prospect Trade Chip for the 2015 Deadline, Mark Appel is untouchable. Before his start on Wednesday, Appel had a career record of 11-10 with a 5.59 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 193 1/3 innings in the minor leagues (Baseball-Reference). That does not scream untouchable to me, it screams that a change of scenery is needed.

I bet Detroit Tigers fans are getting excited about the possibility of getting more Astros players into their system, with the success of J.D. Martinez. But would the Tigers trade David Price for Mark Appel and others? You’ll have to wait until my next post where I will argue for the Houston Astros to trade for Price.

Back to Mark Appel, on Wednesday’s night game, Appel pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings allowing six hits and two walks while striking out four. Let’s take a look at his stats so far this season in the minors via Baseball-Reference.

Appel has been lucky with wins this year and was showing improvement in Corpus Christi before his promotion to Fresno. In his first start in Fresno, he only lasted three innings allowing seven earned runs. His second start with Fresno was a little better as he lasted 5 2/3 innings only giving up three earned runs. His third game was last night’s 4-0 win for Fresno. So he appears to be trending the right direction.

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The Astros still think that Mark Appel will be part of their future, but for the right player, I can see the Astros parting ways with him if the Price is right. Sorry, couldn’t help myself there.

Here is a concept I mentioned a few weeks ago, how about bringing Appel up soon or after roster expansion to pitch in the bullpen? It’s not a new idea; the Cardinals did it with Adam Wainwright and the Astros did it with Shane Reynolds. The kid has a 97 mph fastball and two other plus pitches, put him in the bullpen and let him grow in short segments instead of trying to go deep into the games. The Astros have one of the softest throwing bullpens in baseball so that Appel could bring the heat.

I can already hear you saying, you don’t put a number one pick in the bullpen. Okay, what do we do with him? Does he fit into the rotation next year?

Let me attempt to predict the rotation for 2016.

Dallas Keuchel

Premium Free Agent (Read Luhnow’s comments)

Lance McCullers Jr.

Collin McHugh

Vincent Velasquez

Maybe if the Astros don’t get that premium free agent starter, Mark Appel could find his way into the rotation. However, he will have competition from Josh Hader, Mike Hauschild, Brady Rodgers, and Asher Wojciechowski among others further down the road. But give him the experience pitching to big leaguers in 2015 out of the bullpen, and then he will have a better shot to make the rotation in 2016.

Mark my words, the Astros have too much invested in Mark Appel to not give him every opportunity to start in the big leagues. Maybe the Astros and Appel are both frustrated because he was supposed to be major league ready coming out of Stanford. Despite his struggles this season, he has high value to the Astros and other teams.

I personally want Appel to make his big league debut sooner than later, so we know what we need for 2016 in terms of the starting rotation. Mark Appel will stay in Fresno until after July 13 at the earliest because he will be representing the Astros at the MLB All-Star Futures Game.

What do you think, let us know below?

Next: Houston Astros Midseason Review – What Can Be Changed?

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