The Houston Astros need to tread softly from here on out with how they handle last year’s No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft, Mark Appel. Today, the team promoted the right-hander out of Stanford University to their double-A affiliate, the Corpus Christi Hooks. On the surface, the move doesn’t seem warranted, but it was needed. Appel hasn’t pitched well for the most part, but his latest start, along with the team’s plans for him, gave the Astros the opening they needed to move Appel to the next level in his preparation for the major leagues.
Appel’s record before his promotion was 2-5 with an ERA of 9.74. This doesn’t seem like much of a reason to be promoted, but his latest start of six innings, seven strikeouts, no walks and two runs on five hits was the perfect sendoff. The Astros have stated from the beginning that Appel would be on the fast-track to the majors. This is fine for now, but this should be the last promotion Appel gets without earning it.
There have been reports surfacing of current Astros players who are upset over the promotion. Several of them feel as if he didn’t earn his promotion, which is true. There is nothing wrong with this type of attitude in baseball because it is viewed as a sport where you earn everything you get by how you play. This will all get swept under the rug and not become a larger issue with the clubhouse as long as this is the last time that general manager Jeff Luhnow and the front office promote Appel just to get him closer to the big leagues.
Now that he will be facing future major league caliber hitters, Appel’s future should solely rely on how he pitches. The 23-year-old pitcher will have to prove he can handle double-A hitters all on his own. If he is promoted to Oklahoma City or to the Astros while still struggling, it will create a huge rift in whatever clubhouse he ends up in. The Astros cannot let this happen.