The Houston Astros promoted last year’s No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft Mark Appel from their Single-A affiliate Lancaster Jethawks to their Double-A affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks. The move came as somewhat of a shock because of how poorly Appel has pitched this season.
To those not following the Astros, this move may not seem very thought out. To those familiar with the Astros’ plans, the fast track has always been the plan for the right-hander out of Stanford University.
Appel hasn’t exactly lit up the hitter-friendly California League. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. This season, he has a 2-5 record with a 9.74 ERA. In his latest start, however, Appel was sharp as he picked up his second win by going six innings with seven strikeouts, no walks and two runs on five hits.
The Astros have stated from the beginning that Appel was on the fast track to the major leagues. He is already 23 years old, and this promotion, though it may not have been earned, was the right thing to do. Appel probably should have started the year in Corpus Christi, so the Astros picked the perfect time to send him up with his confidence high coming off of his latest start. This was a move that was made to keep him on pace for being major league ready in the next year or so.
Now that Appel is pitching in Double-A ball, I don’t see him getting any more promotions just because he is on the fast-track to the majors. At this point, he will have to earn a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City or to the Astros. He will now be facing eventual major league caliber hitters in a league that shows exactly how ready a player is in a clearer fashion than the California League.