After signing a $6.35 million bonus with the Astros on June 19, Mark Appel, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft, was assigned to the Short Season New York-Penn League, where he posted a 3.60 ERA over two starts before a promotion to Low-A Quad Cities.
In his full-season debut on Sunday, Appel allowed two hits over four scoreless innings while recording three strikeouts and one walk. Overall, the right-hander owns a 2.00 ERA with 9/1 K/BB through the first nine innings of his promising career.
The Quad Cities roster is currently loaded with many of the organization’s top draft picks from the last three seasons. They have RHP Vincent Velasquez (second round, 2010), 3B Rio Ruiz (fourth round, 2012) and RHP Lance McCullers (supplemental first round, 2012), as well as a pair of No. 1 picks in SS Carlos Correa (2012) and Appel (2013).
Go out and see this team while you can, because many of the aforementioned players are poised for a promotion during the second half of the season.
Here’s a look at the rest of the hottest and coldest pitchers at every minor league level this season—excluding the players who participated in the Futures Game.
Ben Lively, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
12.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R (0 ER), 18/3 K/BB (4 GS)
The 2013 fourth-round draft pick has yet to an allow an earned run through his first four starts as a professional. He has also posted an impressive 18/3 K/BB through 12 innings.
Edwin Diaz, RHP, Seattle Mariners
27.0 IP, 0.33 ERA, .198 BAA, 31/5 K/BB (5 GS)
After struggling in the Arizona League during his professional debut last season, the 19-year-old right-hander has been excellent through five starts in the Appalachian League.
Kohl Stewart, RHP, Minnesota Twins
8.0 IP, 5 H, ER, 7/1 K/BB (3 G/2 GS)
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 draft boasts a plus fastball-slider combination that should continue to baffle hitters in the complex leagues.
Jake Johansen, RHP, Washington Nationals
12.2 IP, 2 H, ER, 13/10 K/BB (4 GS)
The 6’6” right-hander out of Dallas Baptist misses bats with a plus-plus fastball in the mid-to-upper-90s and an inconsistent slider. His lack of control may ultimately force him to the bullpen.
Chris Cotton, LHP, Houston Astros
9.1 IP, 4 H, ER, 7 K (3 G/2 GS)
Strictly a reliever at Louisiana State, Cotton, an undersized and command-oriented left-hander, has not allowed an earned run through two starts (seven innings) this season.
Cody Reed, LHP, Kansas City Royals
13.1 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 8/14 K/BB (4 GS)
The 2013 second-round pick has a projectable frame at 6’5”, 220 pounds along with a big fastball in the mid-90s, but his high-effort delivery will need to be ironed out before advancing to a full-season level.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
76.1 IP, 2.48 ERA, 110/43 K/BB, 13.0 K/9 (17 GS)
Arguably the top breakout prospect among minor-league pitchers this season, Glasnow, a 6’7” right-hander, was nearly unhittable in his last outing: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 7/1 K/BB.
Steven Matz, LHP, New York Mets
76.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, .215 BAA, 83/25 K/BB (15 GS)
Although he was a second-round pick in 2009, Matz, 22, is just now making his full-season debut and has put up solid numbers against younger hitters. He’s actually been more effective against right-handed hitters this season: 60.1 IP, 1.94 ERA, .202 BAA, 66/16 K/BB. The numbers from his last 10 starts, which included a complete-game shutout, look like this: 54.2 IP, 2.30 ERA, .200 BAA, 58/18 K/BB.
Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros
9.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 9/1 K/BB (3 GS)
This year’s No. 1 overall pick was sharp on Sunday during his debut for Low-A Quad Cities, allowing only two hits over four scoreless frames with three strikeouts and one walk.
C.J. Edwards, RHP, Texas Rangers
87.2 IP, 1.95 ERA, .192 BAA, 113/31 K/BB (17 GS)
Edwards is Tyler Glasnow’s competition for the top breakout pitching prospect this season. The 21-year-old right-hander has been dominant over his last 10 starts: 52.0 IP, 1.73 ERA, .200 BAA, 74/21 K/BB.
Dylan Baker, RHP, Cleveland Indians
94.0 IP, 3.26 ERA, .216 BAA, 73/39 K/BB (17 G/16 GS)
The top junior college pitcher in the 2012 draft class, Baker has a heavy plus fastball but inconsistent command of his secondaries. In general, control can be an issue for him. After a rough first month of the season, the right-hander has improved in each subsequent month, and he has pitched especially well over his last six games: 37.0 IP, 15 H, 2 ER, 30 K/15 BB.
Ryan Dull, RHP, Oakland Athletics
39.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, .158 BAA, 58/4 K/BB, 16 SV (30 G)
The undersized right-hander flat-out misses bats and has now posted a ridiculous 105/13 K/BB in 71.1 innings in two professional seasons. Dull has been dealing for High-A Stockton following a promotion in late June, and he could be on the fast track to the major leagues.
Lance McCullers, RHP, Houston Astros
77.1 IP, 3.03 ERA, 87/35 K/BB (20 G/14 GS)
While McCullers’ overall body of work this season has been impressive, the hard-throwing right-hander has struggled over his last three starts: 11.2 IP, 20 H, 12 ER, 12/7 K/BB.
Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
68.2 IP, 3.93 ERA, 76/23 K/BB (13 GS)
After registering a 1.17 ERA with 49/4 K/BB in 30.2 innings during his professional debut last year, Berrios opened his full-season debut this year with a 2.31 ERA in April and 2.63 ERA in May. However, inconsistent command has led to a dip in the 19-year-old’s performance in recent weeks. Also, the discrepancy in his numbers against left-handed hitters (2.02 ERA, .254 BAA in 35.2 IP) and right-handed hitters (6.00 ERA, .305 BAA in 33 IP) this season is staggering.
Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals
89.2 IP, 4.82 ERA, .237 BAA, 113/31 K/BB (18 GS)
While Zimmer’s dismal first half of the season was both disappointing and unexpected, the consensus has always been that his stuff is too good to not be successful. Well, it seems as though the 21-year-old has finally turned the corner at High-A Wilmington. Last three starts: 25,0 IP, 14 H, 5 ER, 36/1 K/BB.
Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins
96.2 IP, 2.23 ERA, .247 BAA, 64/18 K/BB (18 GS)
The 21-year-old left-hander leads all qualified pitchers in the Florida State League with a 2.23 ERA and ranks second with a 1.11 WHIP.
Sam Selman, LHP, Kansas City Royals
81.1 IP, 3.65 ERA, .201 BAA, 73/58 K/BB (18 GS)
Much like teammate Kyle Zimmer, Selman has shown signs of turning the corner over the last several weeks. Last five starts: 25.0 IP, 14 H, 3 ER, 24/15 K/BB.
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
77.0 IP, 2.57 ERA, .200 BAA, 96/20 K/BB (14 GS)
In his second start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list (hamstring), the flame-throwing 20-year-old fanned eight batters over 6.2 scoreless innings for Low-A Dayton. He was promoted to High-A Bakersfield after the game.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
49.2 IP, 1.09 ERA, .208 BAA, 58/15 K/BB (11 G/10 GS)
A lat injury kept Heaney out of action until late May, but he’s certainly made up for lost time with a red-hot start. Last three starts: 15.0 IP, 11 H, 0 ER, 14/4 K/BB.
R.J. Alvarez, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
36.1 IP, 3.47 ERA, .203 BAA, 57/19 K/BB (25 G/2 GS)
A 2012 third-rounder with a plus-plus fastball, Alvarez was expected to move quickly through the Angels’ system. However, the right-hander has turned in an inconsistent season for High-A Inland Empire thus far. Last three appearances: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4/3 K/BB.
Robbie Ray, LHP, Washington Nationals
101.0 IP, 2.85 ERA, .212 BAA, 121/48 K/BB (19 GS)
Since his promotion to Double-A Harrisburg in early July: 17.0 IP, 16 H, 3 ER, 21/7 K/BB in three starts.
Sean Nolin, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
64.2 IP, 2.09 ERA, .227 BAA, 70/14 K/BB (12 GS)
Other than his ugly debut in the major leagues, Nolin is having a real solid season at Double-A New Hampshire. He is candidate for a call-up later this season, especially considering he’s already on the 40-man roster. Last three starts: 19.2 IP, 11 H, 0 ER, 23/4 K/BB.
Adam Conley, LHP, Miami Marlins
93.1 IP, 3.66 ERA, .235 BAA, 87/25 K/BB (18 G/17 GS)
The 6’3” left-hander tossed a complete-game shutout on Sunday against Double-A Mobile: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 4 K.
Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
55.2 IP, 3.23 ERA, .222 BAA, 63/14 K/BB (11 GS)
The hard-throwing right-hander has put up impressive numbers at Double-A New Hampshire since returning from a 50-game suspension for PEDs. Last eight starts: 45.2 IP, 30 H, 11 ER, 50/11 K/BB.
Onelki Garcia, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
40.0 IP, 2.70 ERA, .212 BAA, 40/26 K/BB (17 G/6 GS)
The 6’3” left-hander has showcased swing-and-miss stuff this season, but he has struggled with his command. As a starter: 20.0 IP, 4.95 ERA, .273 BAA, 17/16 K/BB; as a reliever: 20.0 IP, 0.45 ERA, .145 BAA, 23/10 K/BB.
Zach Petrick, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
72.0 IP, 0.63 ERA, .188 BAA, 86/13 K/BB, 8 SV (26 G/5 GS)
After registering an 0.83 ERA with 46/8 K/BB in 32.2 innings for Low-A Peoria, the Cardinals promoted Petrick to High-A Palm Beach, where he posted a staggering 0.27 ERA with 32/4 K/BB in 33.1 innings. The fast-moving right-hander made his Double-A debut Tuesday, allowing one earned run on four hits over six innings while recording eight strikeouts and one walk. The organization seems intent on moving him up the ladder, so don’t be surprised if he reaches the major leagues during the second half of the season.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
98.1 IP, 3.75 ERA, .263 BAA, 93/34 K/BB (18 G/17 GS)
Taillon turned in the worst outing of his career on Saturday, allowing 10 earned runs on 13 hits in 3.1 ugly innings against Double-A Arkansas.
Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Houston Astros
111.1 IP, 2.75 ERA, .199 BAA, 96/38 K/BB (20 G/17 GS)
After a hot start at Double-A Corpus Christi, the 6’4” right-hander has been just as difficult to barrel following a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City: 85.1 IP, 2.95 ERA, .201 BAA, 69/31 K/BB.
Heath Hembree, RHP, San Francisco Giants
38.2 IP, 4.42 ERA, .258 BAA, 47/12 K/BB, 19 SV (37 G)
Hembree was pretty terrible for a six-week stretch into late June, but he has dominated as of late. Last eight outings: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 12/2 K/BB, 5 SV.
James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners
98.1 IP, 4.58 ERA, .280 BAA, 97/39 K/BB (19 GS)
There may not be a more frustrating pitching prospect than James Paxton. As usual, the left-hander has turned in another inconsistent season, though he has pitched better over his last three starts: 21.0 IP, 17 H, 5 ER, 16/6 K/BB.
Ethan Martin, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
97.2 IP, 4.79 ERA, .239 BAA, 87/58 K/BB (18 GS)
Just when it seemed as through the 24-year-old right-hander was putting everything together in late June, he’s taken a step backwards over his last two starts: 11.0 IP, 12 H, 8 ER, 12/6 K/BB.
Daniel Corcino, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
90.0 IP, 6.40 ERA, .299 BAA, 58/47 K/BB (18 G/17 GS)
Ignoring his declining walk rate, the Reds moved Corcino up to Triple-A for the 2013 season. Here’s how his last three seasons look: 2.2 BB/9 in 139.1 innings for Low-A Dayton in 2011; 4.1 BB/9 in 143 innings for Double-A Pensacola in 2012; and now, 4.7 BB/9 in 90 innings for Triple-A Louisville.