All Things Astros and a whole lot more

Can Appel follow Cole, Strasburg and Price to majors?

It shouldn’t be surprising if Mark Appel makes a meteoric rise to the major leagues in 2014. Yes, 2014.

Sure, the Astros could take the safe route and allow their top pick in the 2013 draft to incubate at Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City this season.  That wouldn’t be a shock either. But college players drafted with the #1 pick of the draft often spend very little time in the minors.  Especially pitchers.

Take these for collegians for example:

Gerrit Cole, University of California.

  • Drafted first overall in 2011.  The 23-year-old pitched 38 games  in the minors and hit the majors approximately two years after he was drafted. Some projected he was ready before he got the call from Pittsburgh.

Steven Strasburg, San Diego State.

  • Dominant in college, dominant in the minors, Strasburg stepped on a major league mound one year after he was drafted in 2009 draft. He had 11 games (55 IP) in pit stops with two minor league teams and that was enough.

David Price, Vanderbilt.

  • He was in the majors about a year after he signed following the 2007 draft.  The Vanderbilt ace showed his stuff in brief stints for three minor league teams before Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect into a major league pitcher.

Baseball America will release its latest version of Astros’ top prospects on Monday. Appel was certainly considered for the top spot, and he certainly should be the Astros’ top pitching prospect when that list is revealed.

Jonathan Mayo has Appel ranked #4 behind Carlos Correa, Jonathan Singleton and George Springer. Like Appel, Correa (2012) and Springer (2011) are former #1 picks for the Astros. All three will surely be part of the next-gen Astros.

Correa continues to make Jeff Luhnow’s surprise 2012 pick look very good, especially when you consider the money saved helped to lure Lance McCullers with the second pick in that draft.

Meanwhile, can you remember a time in Astros’ history when the organization had as many players who could fit into a can’t miss category. We can debate the names on that list, and even though it’s a short list, reasonable minds could write as many 5-6 names on the list.

Barring injury, the only thing that should slow down Appel’s date with the majors is a desire to keep him away from Super 2 status and buy an extra year of team control. Otherwise, Appel could be wearing a jersey by the All Star break.

  • What are the chances you’ll see Appel in an Astros’ uniform in 2014?
  • BA releases its list Monday. Get your  list in black and white today. Rank your top 5 in the organization. Here is BA’s list from last year and their 2013 mid-season update.
  • Which one of these top 10 Astros’ pitching prospects is most likely to succeed in the majors: Appel, McCullers or Mike Foltynewicz?
  • Finally, take a look at all the above compilations and make your own list of Astros’ can’t miss prospects.  I encourage you to “grade” liberally and include more, rather than less, on your list.

About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO, and wakes up each morning to the tallest spot in the region, Pikes Peak. He is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 50 years. A native of another picturesque city, Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. Pastor Bosman came up with Chipalatta, and it has stuck.

19 comments on “Can Appel follow Cole, Strasburg and Price to majors?

  1. 1oldpro
    January 15, 2014

    I think we will see Appel in September and I think he is currently our best pitching prospect.
    top5-Correa, Appel, Springer, Folty, Singleton.
    Cant miss- Correa, Appel, Folty, Springer, Hader, Santana.Ruiz.


  2. 1oldpro
    January 15, 2014

    I think Appel will be our #2 pitching prospect after the draft in june. I based my can’t misses on age, tools or stuff, and what they have shown me so far, relative to their age and their projected future roles on the team.


  3. Flash
    January 15, 2014

    I’m not sure why prospect evaluators resist making Springer the Astros’ top prospect. He was the best minor league player last year, Okay, he strikes out a lot. But that is trending down. I guess it’s because they already had Corea number one and no one likes to admit they were wrong. So I’ll do it.



    • 1oldpro
      January 16, 2014

      I disagree. Correa had a fantastic year in a league where the AVERAGE age was four years older than him. He doesn’t strike out and hits a ton. Appel does not have a major weakness, Correa does not have a major weakness. Springer has a major weakness.
      I think Springer is ready for the majors, but I’m more worried about his strikeouts than I am anything I see in the other two.


  4. Dan P
    January 15, 2014

    Appel in 2014? I know it is a different situation, but the way Springer has crawled to the majors….I’m thinking 2015 is more likely – this is not what I want to happen – this is what I think will happen.
    Dan P’s top 10
    1) Correa
    3) Appel
    4) Folty
    5) McCullers
    6) Singleton
    7) Fontana
    8) Santana
    9) Stassi
    10) Ruiz
    Which one of these top 10 Astros’ pitching prospects is most likely to succeed in the majors: I say Appel – but that is more guess than direct knowledge.
    Can’t miss – I am liberally interpreting that as “will make it to the majors”
    My 10 above – plus
    Nick Tropeano
    Vincent Velasquez
    Micheal Feliz
    Andrew Thurman
    2014 #1 overall – whoever it will be

    Biggest question mark – Deshields – the reports on him attitude wise are not kind – he may have all the talent in the world and may never get to dance….


  5. devin_
    January 15, 2014

    The only way I see Appel wearing an Astros uniform in 2014 is if there is either language in his contract or an under the table agreement made at his signing for him to be promoted. I say this for two reasons. First, I don’t think the likely rotation members are trade candidates. Second, if anyone were traded, I suspect there are about five pitchers from the minors more likely to get an extended look or brief cup of coffee. However, if he performs well enough he should be in line for a shot at the 2015 rotation. We’re likely to be having the same discussion about him next offseason that we had about Springer.

    What’s interesting is that Correa has jumped Appel despite our expecting the latter to be the consensus #1 before the 2012 draft. It’s not like his 2013 NCAA performance was lacking in any way. We’ll see what happens with Correa, but the real comparison should probably be Byron Buxton. A few have written the Astros could have signed Buxton and still had room for McCullers. That probably precludes them from also adding Ruiz, but who knows?

    I haven’t seen most prospects play more then a highlight video or two online. I suspect DeShields is over ranked at this point. I’m not as high on Fontana as most here…mainly because as a pitcher I would not be afraid to throw him strikes. I hope I’m wrong on both.


  6. daveb
    January 16, 2014

    If Appel is overpowering at every level in 2014, then there is the outside shot that he’d see some MLB action. But he’ll get shutdown after 150 or so innings, regardless of where he throws. See Strasberg. One thing is certain though. If Appel is ready to go and has some innings left in him, room will be made in the rotation. Devin, our anticipated rotation in 2014 is far from bullet proof.

    Hard for me to assign particular guys to the top ten, or even top five, based on stats. I’ve only seen Springer, Stassi, Santana and Wojoski play. I think they all belong. But certainly, it’s hard to ignore what Correa has accomplished so quickly. Everyone is high on him. At the same time, I’m surprised to read here that Mayo still ranks Singleton at #4. He’s got a ways to go. And based on Wallace still being here with Guzman as an apparent platoon mate, I don’t think Luhnow and company expect Singleton in Houston anytime soon. Although still just 22, it’s about time he puts together a big year in AAA. I don’t think we’ll see him rated close to the 27th best prospect in MLB as he was in 2013.


    • Steven
      January 16, 2014

      Yea, agree on Appel, he starts at AA or AAA, and may see time in the majors this year if he is very good – but will definitely be on an inning limit, especially given the lack of expectations overall for the franchise this year. I think he threw pretty close to 150 innings last year, so I would expect closer to 170 this year, but we are mincing now – we agree that there will definitely be alimit of some sort.


    • Steven
      January 16, 2014

      BTW – I watched Singleton play when OKC came to New Orleans this year – was really there to see a start from Cosart, and he didn’t disappoint – Singleton was ineffective (while Wallace was lights out, tearing the cover off the ball), but his body language exuded confidence. He was VERY selective also, he took a lot of pitches. I still see great things from him.


      • daveb
        January 16, 2014

        That’s encouraging Steven, but he did put up some ugly stats. The .687 OPS is glaring.


    • devin_
      January 17, 2014

      daveb – I agree about the rotation. There is a good chance at least one or two of our projected five will fall flat. I suspect that would happen around the end of May, should they make a change. I can’t see a situation where they want to put the entire summer’s worth of innings onto Appel’s arm.


  7. rj1953
    January 16, 2014

    1. springer
    2. correa
    3. mccullers
    4. singleton
    5. folty

    not only did the signing of correa let us get mccullers but also ruiz.
    appel gets a cup of coffee maybe a big cup in late summer/september

    i have a question for chip or anyone else out there that knows the answer. could you explain and give the dates about arbitration eligibility, super two status and any other info about time in service and team control.


  8. becky
    January 16, 2014

    Strasburg was a different cat…he went straight to the majors, when they signed him. Maybe that’s the reason for his early Tommy John surgery.
    Luhnow will be extra careful with Appel…… need to rush a guy like that. We will *possibly* see him in September……..or maybe not.


  9. rj1953
    January 16, 2014
    • rj1953
      January 16, 2014

      some more info.
      During the spring of 2001, there was a strong feeling among some in the St. Louis organization that it wasn’t wise to jump Albert Pujols to the big leagues after just one season in the Minors because it would “start the clock'” on the six years of playing time necessary to become a free agent.

      In the final days of the spring, as the roster was being reduced to the season-opening 25-man limit, a veteran scout raised the question: Was it more important to win games in 2001 or ’08?

      The answer was easy: 2001.

      Then, the man asked, why the debate? Pujols was the best pure hitter in the organization, and even if the lineup was pretty well set, the veteran scout was confident that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa would find a way to get Pujols’ bat in the lineup.

      La Russa endorsed the idea.

      And nobody ever questioned the decision.

      Pujols never did have a regular position that rookie season. He started at five positions — 52 starts at third base, 38 in left field, 33 in right field, 31 at first base and two as the DH.

      Oh, and he led the Cards with a .329 average, 37 home runs and 130 RBIs.

      That “starting the clock” theory never was a factor.

      Pujols was so good, that after his third year in the big leagues, the Cardinals signed him through 2011. He eventually become a free agent and signed with the Angels, but that wasn’t until after his 11th big league season.

      The point?

      There is too much time wasted on worrying about “starting the clock” on a young player’s potential free agency when constructing rosters. The decision should rely on a very simple question: Is the player among the best 25 to give his team a chance to win?

      this is why i think springer and singleton among others should play this year.


      • becky
        January 16, 2014

        rj1953……..Agree 100%.


      • daveb
        January 16, 2014

        Springer yes, but Singleton should not be marching into Houston coming off a .220 average and a .687 OPS in AAA ball unless he absolutely kills the ball in ST. Even then, I’d give him time in AAA to put up some real stats first.


      • Tim
        January 17, 2014

        The big difference regarding Pujols is that the Cardinals were considered contenders in 2001. The Astros are definitely not going to be contenders in 2014. If we were going to contend then I might be inclined to ‘starting the clock’, but no major reason to do so since we are still in the rebuild mode.


  10. daveb
    January 17, 2014

    Since this is a family blog, I will simply say, “bleep the clock”. That’s all we seem to hear these days. When a guy is ready, he should be rewarded with a promotion. Any wise, successful business operation succeeds the same way. Save a few bucks and hold back an employee? Then he stagnates, quits trying quite so hard and will eventually go work for an employer that recognizes excellence with better compensation, benefits and working conditions. And then of course the customer sees that the product is better down the street. You know, the domino effect. We’ve had quite a dose of the domino effect. And worse, some of us have actually embraced the crappy product that we still serve here.


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This entry was posted on January 15, 2014 by in Astros.

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