Predicting When We'll See Mark Appel in a Houston Astros Uniform
The team hasn't made the official announcement, but according to ESPN's Jim Bowden, the Houston Astros will likely select Stanford's Mark Appel with their No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 First Year Player draft:
According to source the Houston Astros are expected to select Stanford RHP Mark Appel with the first over all selection in tomorrows draft.— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) June 3, 2012
This news is hardly surprising.
Appel was born in Houston and remained there until age 12 (a potential "hometown hero").
He's a half-decent baseball player, too. The soon-to-be 21-year-old features three terrific pitches: a mid-90s fastball with movement, a hard slider with late tilt and a circle changeup. Appel thrived using those weapons during his two years as a Cardinal starter.
Naturally, Astros fans are anxious for him to debut in the big leagues.
Out of 30 MLB teams, Houston's current starting rotation ranks only 20th in ERA (4.31) and 25th in WHIP (1.40). The group is also tied for eighth in the National League with 254 strikeouts and 18 wins.
It may not be long before he's ready to join the staff.
Collegiate pitchers taken atop the past couple drafts—Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole, Drew Pomeranz, etc.—began their professional careers at High-A minor-league affiliates. From there, about 100 innings of consistent and effective performance earns a promotion to the majors.
When will No. 1 draft pick Mark Appel debut for the Houston Astros?
The Astros might be willing to accelerate Appel's development if a spot opens up in the starting five. Wandy Rodriguez, for example, is trade bait. His age and high salary make him a poor fit on this rebuilding club, so he's a prime candidate to be moved in the next six months.
The new collective bargaining agreement all but ensures that Appel will be pitching for the organization later this summer. Steep penalties deter teams from going above preset bonuses. Draft picks and their agents have less to gain through contract negotiations, so signing him won't be a concern.
Let's say he is assigned to the Salem Avalanche (High-A) in late July. After several smooth appearances, he'll be promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi.
Appel could get to the highest level by September 2013, at 22 years of age, and become a mainstay the following season.
Of course, this prediction assumes that he won't suffer a significant injury. That seems like a safe bet, considering his track record of good health, long and slender frame and fundamentally sound delivery.
Make it a priority to watch the Houston Astros officially choose Mark Appel. The first round and supplemental compensation round of the 2012 draft will be shown live at 6 p.m. CT on MLB.com and the MLB Network.
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