Appel's first start was highly anticipated by Astros fans, who expect this kid to be the face of the starting rotation in a few years.
The Astros paid $6.35 million for Appel, and they certainly expect to get a lot out of him for that kind of money.
Appel took his first step toward making it to the MLB on Friday, and here's how it all went down.
Appel's first inning of pro baseball was a shaky one that started to go wrong on the very first pitch.
Tzu-Win Lin led off for the Lowell Spinners against Appel, and he drove the very first pitch of Appel's career over the center fielder's head for a lead-off triple. Lin later scored on a groundout.
After giving up two more hits, Appel was in a jam with runners on the corners and only one out. The best-case scenario would have been to force the opposing batter to ground into a double play, and he did his best to make that happen.
Appel did force a groundout, but the ball couldn't be turned for two, instead having the runner on third trot home to give Lowell an early 2-0 lead.
That's when it looked like Appel started pitching for real.
After retiring the final batter of the first inning with an eight-pitch strikeout, Appel shut down Lowell in the second, going one-two-three on just seven pitches.
Appel was done after just two innings, as the team just wanted him to shake off some rust. At the end of the day, this is what his stat line looked like:
|2.0 IP||2 ER||3 H||1 K||0 BB||26 pitches (19 strikes)||9.00 ERA||1.50 WHIP|
While it wasn't a great start to the day for Appel, he certainly battled back and looked very good by the end. He hit around 95 mph on the gun on a consistent basis and threw three different pitches.
The stat line doesn't look pretty, but to expect this kid to come out and throw five shutout innings is just unrealistic. On the whole, the Astros should be happy with this performance.
Overall Grade: B+
No debut would be complete without a bit of analysis from the fans.
It was a beautiful day for Appel to make this first start as a professional pitcher.
Unfortunately, Appel's first pitch wasn't quite as beautiful as the scenery in Pasco, Wash., and it got launched over his outfielder's head.
Mark Appel's first pitch as a pro: Fastball hit over CF's head for a triple.— Zachary Levine (@zacharylevine) July 5, 2013
The good news for Appel and his following is that he was much better in the second inning, throwing to contact with his breaking pitches and getting batters to harmlessly ground out.
Appel goes 1-2-3 in the 2nd. Good breaking stuff down to induce ground balls. 27 total pitches. Will he be out for the 3rd? Stay tuned.— Mike Lindsley (@MikeLsports) July 5, 2013
Check that. 26 pitches for Appel.— Mike Lindsley (@MikeLsports) July 5, 2013
Appel's day was over after two innings, and while his line looked ugly, all that mattered was that he threw his pitches, shook off some rust and showed scouts what they wanted to see.
Mark Appel is indeed out of the game after 2 innings. Lousy results, right arm still attached.— Zachary Levine (@zacharylevine) July 5, 2013
A scout at Tri-City had Appel's velocity a little higher than stadium gun. Some 94, 95. Said it looked "comfortable."— Zachary Levine (@zacharylevine) July 6, 2013
Mark Appel goes two innings, 26 pitches, allows 2 runs. Velocity and movement both there; results will follow as he shakes off rust— Matt Appel (@mattappel) July 5, 2013
Luckily, fans knew not to expect too much out of Appel in his first pro start. This was all about getting into a whole new game, and fans won't exactly be crying themselves to sleep tonight.
The night can't be summed up any better than it was by Astros blogger Sean Feist, who acknowledged that nothing Appel did tonight really mattered other than getting back on the mound.
Appel's first start didn't really mean anything outside of the fact that he threw the ball to the catcher a few times with a batter in the box.
From here, Appel will continue to pitch in Single-A. He'll eventually work his way up to five innings and beyond in every start, and when that happens, he'll have a chance of moving up the ranks.
This is a common start for a lot of pitching prospects, but what matters is what he does for the rest of the year.