Mark Appel has the upside of a solid No. 2 starter in the major leagues. Taking a No. 2 starter with the No. 1 overall selection simply will not do.
The Astros are a down-on-their-luck franchise, but hope is not dead in the Lonestar state. Their No. 1 pick plus encouraging young pieces on their current roster leave room for improvement in the coming years.
But they must not squander their pick by selecting Appel. He is a solid player, but he does not have the "stuff" of an ace.
Instead, Houston should scoop up Byron Buxton. He has tremendous upside, five-tool potential and a ton of room to grow.
Let's take a look at each player and why Houston should go with Buxton's upside over Appel's polish.
Appel has a big, 6'5'' frame. But he does not have big-time stuff.
He utilizes a sinking, low 90s fastball, a sharp breaking ball and deceptive change-up. Because his fastball lacks spectacular velocity, he relies on its riding movement and the use of his off-speed offerings.
Potential is the hottest word in any draft circle. Prospects possessing the coveted "upside" trait bring out feverish whispers among draft analysts.
Appel does not have the esteemed "upside" trait. He is an extremely composed, consistent and accurate pitcher. With Appel, you know what you are going to get.
That is not always a bad option, but Houston needs excitement. Their franchise has suffered through recent struggles, and their fanbase is hungry for something to cheer about.
Appel will be a fine pitcher, but he does not hold value at No. 1.
Houston needs to roll the dice and take this next player.
Buxton has ridiculous upside and speed that kills. He is one of the best athletes in this year's draft and could develop into a legitimate five-tool threat.
He uses his speed by knocking the ball deep into the gaps. Once he matures and fills out, Buxton should develop more power. If he develops long-ball potential, he has a superstar's ceiling.
Defensively, Buxton uses his speed well to track down long fly balls. He must learn to take better, more efficient routes, but that will come with maturity.
His arm is a different story. He has a laser-like hose from the outfield, and anyone daring to run will learn that quickly.
Watching Buxton develop into a premier prospect will be fun to watch. The Astros have a young core of exciting hitters on their major league roster and a few more on the way.
Pairing Buxton with their current sluggers would generate some hope for this organization's future.
Houston is not ready to win today even if Appel is ready to pitch right away. They can afford to wait for Buxton to develop in the minor leagues over the next few seasons.
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