Another big prospect in the Houston Astros’ farm system has arrived in Fresno.
And starting pitcher Mark Appel believes he’s ready for Triple-A.
The Astros on Wednesday promoted the No. 1 overall pick from the 2013 amateur draft to the Fresno Grizzlies.
“Honestly, it’s exciting,” Appel said a few hours after flying into Fresno on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s a big step. It’s a big step towards achieving my dreams.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Appel, a right-hander, will not pitch during a homestand that concludes Thursday. He instead is scheduled to make his debut Saturday on the road against the Reno Aces.
A Stanford product, Appel entered this season ranked as the No. 24 prospect for all of baseball as well as the Astros’ top pitching prospect.
Two others in the Astros’ chain, however, appeared to leapfrog Appel, with Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez promoted from Double-A straight to the majors this season.
Appel has gone through a series of ups and downs since turning pro, owning a 11-9 career record with a 5.36 ERA in 42 games, all but one of those as a starter.
But the 23-year-old just might have started to figure things out this month. In his four starts this month, Appel is 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA with 20 strikeouts to five walks in 23.1 innings, including four-hit shutout ball over seven innings in his final start with the Corpus Christi Hooks.
For the season, Appel is 5-1 with a 4.26 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 63.1 innings.
Appel was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft
“He’s ready to go,” Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “He’s pitching really well, pitching with confidence. This is now his phase for development.
“We’re going to see if he can dominate this league and then wait for that opportunity (to the majors).”
Appel credits better focus and preparation between starts for his success of late. That has led to more confidence.
“Just a matter of consistency,” Appel said. “It’s nice to have a string of games where you’re feeling good on the mound. You’re feeling healthy. You’re feeling just physically good.”
Appel is the latest highly regarded prospect to join the Grizzlies.
Shortstop Carlos Correa, ranked No. 2 overall by MLB.com, played 24 games with the Grizzlies before earning his call-up earlier this month.
Outfielder Domingo Santana, ranked 58th overall and third-best in the Astros’ system, played 56 games for the Grizzlies before he was called up 10 days ago.
Appel, too, hopes to reach the majors this season. In the meantime, he wants to help the Grizzlies maintain their first-place standing.
24 Appel’s prospect ranking throughout baseball by MLB.com entering this season
“I’m excited,” Appel said. “But at the end of the day, if you remove the bigger stadium, more fans, the work is the same. And it’ll be the same at the next level, too.
“Got a good approach in between starts. Plan on continuing that and seeing how that works out in Fresno.”
Mark Appel file
- Age: 23
- School: Stanford
- Drafted: No. 1 overall by the Houston Astros in 2013 amateur draft
- Height/weight: 6-5/220
- Throws: Right