Astros Top Prospects: MLB.com Top 30 Fresno Grizzlies

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#2 Mark Appel

Oct. 14, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Mark Appel plays for the Salt River Rafters during an Arizona Fall League game against the Surprise Saguaros at Salt River Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Appel has been one of the most interesting prospects in the Astros system over the last couple of seasons. The highly touted right-hander has been very up and down so far, showing signs of why the Astros selected him with the #1 overall pick in 2013 but also making Astros fans very nervous with a lot of rough outings at basically every level in the minors.

He has been the center of a lot of frustration for Astros fans, with many wondering how in the world the Astros took him over Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who was selected #2 overall that year. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow seems to have gotten it right with his other #1 pick in Carlos Correa, but the second one looks much more shaky.

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Appel, who struggled at AA Corpus Christi, hasn’t necessarily turned it around yet in Fresno. He has been inconsistent as expected, and still not yet dominant like the true ace that he’s projected to be.

Here are Appel’s stats at AAA Fresno: 1-2 record with a 4.62 ERA, 37.0 IP, 15 BB allowed, 32 Ks, five home runs allowed, and a 1.486 WHIP.

All the scouts are still saying that Appel’s mid-90s fastball, slider, and change-up can carry him to the front of an MLB rotation and keep him there for many years. Personally, I don’t see it yet, but I’m still giving Appel time to show me. He definitely has the ability to strike hitters out and take control of an at bat, but he has also gotten roughed up a lot.

I don’t think Appel will get to Keuchel level any time soon, but he might be a better option than Feldman or McHugh in 2016. If he can develop and become what he’s supposed to become, the Astros rotation will be scary for many years to come. A 2016 rotation of Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Scott Kazmir (if he can be re-signed), Mark Appel, and Collin McHugh would match up with any other starting rotation in the AL.

It’s safe to say that the Astros organization will hit it’s booming point if Appel can reach his full potential. We are one more ace away from being elite, and Appel has the chance to become that ace. Even more exciting times are on the way for the Houston Astros.

Next: Who's Hot, Who's Not for Astros AA Corpus Christi

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