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Mark Appel was a mess last night (and all year) at Single-A

Jul 11, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers v Houston Astros Getty Images

Astros prospect Mark Appel had seemingly gotten on track after a rough, injury plagued start to his second pro season, putting together a decent stretch of games at Single-A, but the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft got knocked around in a big way last night.

Appel failed to make it out of the fifth inning while allowing seven runs on 13 hits and his season totals at high Single-A now include a 9.57 ERA in 10 starts with a .376 opponents’ batting average and 1.030 OPS against.

Appel has just 75 career innings under his belt since being drafted out of Stanford, but he turns 23 years old next week and almost everyone figured he’d be at least knocking on the door to the majors by now. Instead he’s struggling–and that’s probably putting it very kindly–at high Single-A.

  1. Stiller43 - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    I take back everything bad i said about him after not signing with the buccos. Phew!!!

    • mmeyer3387 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      There is more to this picture. Appel isn’t the first player to go back to his college team after being drafted. Second, most players do go back in the draft when they have a chance to be the first player drafted the next year. Third, he was rated the best player in the draft by a vast majority of scouts and MLB organizations. Fourth, he has a lot of upside and is just starting his pro career, so there is a lot of time to play out before we will know what type of play he will become.

  2. clydeserra - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    so, you are saying, he was…ahem.. (cough)…a bad appel?

    • kyzslew77 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:14 PM


  3. 8to80texansblog - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    He’s looking like a hardcore bust as the #1 overall pick….

    • okwhitefalcon - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      For as much credit as Jeff Luhnow gets for helping the Cards rebuild their farm system there were some really bad first round picks.

      A few that were reaches, a few that just never developed and a few that were traded and never became reliable big league players.

      A number 1 overall not panning out is a entire different level though….

      Let’s hope the kid finds his mojo soon…

      • paperlions - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        It’s not like Appel was a particularly controversial 1.1 pick though. Many (or most) teams probably would have taken him there.

        Just like this year, most teams probably would have taken Aiken, but the elbow issue makes it look like a bad pick already.

  4. icanspeel - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    I haven’t seen any of his pitching, but could be mechanical or something that can be corrected.. a little early to call him a bust, but still must be concerning to Astros fans.

    • Bob - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      It’s very concerning. I think he has bust written all over him.

  5. rollinghighwayblues - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    “Appel failed to make it out of the fifth inning while allowing seven runs on 13 hits”

    Hey, it beats the hell outta Colby Lewis’ start last night.

  6. windycity0301 - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Good for him that he waited a year and got more money up front. Looks like that might be all he makes. That’s a huge swing of where he should be in his development versus where he actually is. The only thing that makes sense is an injury or a completely messed up head…

  7. kycardsfan - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Paging Dave Duncan

  8. karlkolchak - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    Meanwhile, Austin Voth, who was second to Appel in Ks in the PAC-10 the year both he and Appel got drafted has been lights out since getting promoted to the high single A Potomac Nationals–to the tune of an 0.47 ERA, 0.536 WHIP, 20Ks and only 3BBS in 19.1 IP. Before that, he put up a 2.45 ERA in 13 starts at low singe A Harrisburg. More amazingly, he wasn’t drafted until the 5th round.

  9. echech88 - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    That SI cover jinx is no joke.

    Maybe they meant 2027 World Series champs

    • Francisco (FC) - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      Or 2117 World Series champs.

  10. kyzslew77 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Meanwhile Jon Gray is sporting a 3.77 ERA with 81 Ks in 88 IP at AA in a somewhat hitter-friendly league. Rockies are probably feeling pretty lucky to have ended up with him at this point.

    • fatediesel - Jul 12, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      As a Cubs fan I was disappointed when Appel went #1 because the Cubs needed some good pitching prospects, but I’m so glad the Astros took Appel and the Cubs ended up with Bryant.

  11. jb8588 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    @ Karl, vote was with low-A Hagerstown, Harrisburg would be his next spot. I saw him pitch a couple times with Hagerstown…looking really sharp! As a Pirates fan, I’m find a little amusement in Appel’s struggles.

    • karlkolchak - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      Yep–typo on my part. No disrespect intended to the Hagerstown Suns, even if they are about to pull up stakes and move to Virginia.

  12. jimmyu - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Meanwhile, Kris Bryant is already tearing up AAA!

  13. tedwmoore - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    The Royals would have already converted him to a reliever.

  14. stex52 - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    The talk in the local papers around Houston is that they tried to bring him back too quickly after his appendectomy in the spring. Then, supposedly the piggyback pitching system messed with his rhythm. Both, if true, are really bad development decisions by the Astros.

    Hopefully he will bounce back well. He demonstrated a lot of talent and development at Stanford; they need to back off and at least get him back to that level.

  15. The Dangerous Mabry - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    To give him a bit of credit, Lancaster’s not exactly a great place to be a pitcher. Keith Law described it as pitching on the surface of the moon, and any park factor analysis I’ve seen backs that up.

    Not that it completely explains miserable performance, but it’s bound to be part of the picture.

  16. onbucky96 - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    So…Scott Boras, is steak still on the menu, or has Apple been downgraded to chopped liver?

  17. rcali - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    Maybe he should start wearing a garter belt. Worked for “Nuke” LaLoosh, although Nuke was able to get out of Single A ball.

  18. kingjoe1 - Jul 11, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    A number of scouts had him as very over-rated and no where near the best pitcher in the draft. The Astros took him on media hype not ability. That always spells danger. He made his money, what does he care now. Appel never really seem to enjoy baseball anyway.

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