by Jared Webb @webberoo11
I think we all have a conspiracy theory that involves Bud Selig sitting in a cave plotting Houston's demise. I'm even convinced he had something to do with the Astros having the worst record during two seasons prior to extremely weak drafts.
A big reason for the weakness of the 2012 and 2013 drafts is aggressive HS signings in previous years which have left the college crop very very weak. The 2011 draft is a good draft to think of in terms of strong draft pools. 2013 does have some good college arms, and also contains depth in the LHP and C departments.
I've become a bit of a draft fanatic because, unlike the speculative world of trades and free agency, you know your team is going to get SOMETHING in the draft. When I talk to people about the draft, I tend to lean towards taking the best available player. In 2012 I wanted Byron Buxton, while most wanted Mark Appel. With this fanaticism as a motivation, I've decided to do some draft prospect write ups. I will go ahead and start off with the guy who didn't sign last year.
Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics
Mark Appel 6'5"/215 RHP
A few hours before the 2012 draft, sources confirmed that the Astros had decided Mark Appel was their man. However, a verbal deal couldn't be achieved so the Astros got creative and took Carlos Correa.
Realistically, Appel could have gone 1-1 and no one could have questioned the pick. Mark has a FB that sits in the mid 90's, but it lacks movement and deception. Appel tends to show the ball early and hitters tend to hit the pitch more than they should. He also has a solid slider that has a chance to develop into an out pitch as he progresses. If the pitch stays tight and he stays on top of it, then it can be a plus pitch.
In 2011, Appel developed a change up which has progressed into a plus pitch that has good fade with deceptive arm speed. Appel throws strikes, but needs to tighten his command. With his slow delivery and lack of deception, he will need to be very precise with his pitches.
Some speculation is that Stanford has a tendency to misuse their pitchers, and evidence from last year seemed to prove it. For example, Stanford left Appel on the mound for 149 pitches in a game against Oregon. It's also said that Appel would have better strike out numbers if Stanford was better at calling pitches for him.
Personally, I'm not in love with Mark Appel due to the lack of dominance. Even with that, Appel has the goods needed to go 1-1. Mark could develop into a front-line starter, and with some luck maybe even an ace. Once again people are speculating that Mark Appel will be an Astro. It would make for a very interesting story considering how last year's draft played out and the fact that Appel is a Houston native.