Is Appel a change of scenery or a change of delivery candidate?
Kate Morrison: Mark Appel has been kicking around prospect lists for three years, though those three years feel like a lifetime. The now-Phillies minor leaguer is far from the first player to go in the first round and run into bumps along the road to the majors, and these bumps have made it difficult to figure out exactly where to put him on prospect lists, not to mention what his future might have in store. Today, Adam McInturff and Brendan Gawlowski debate the consistent inconsistency of starting pitcher Mark Appel:
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2013 first overall pick Mark Appel made an exhibition start in Houston, and PITCHf/x was watching.
Earlier this week we got our first look from a pitch tracking system at Mark Appel, the first overall selection in the 2013 draft and one of Houston’s (and baseball’s) top prospects. The data come from a preseason exhibition contest that was played on the final day of spring training—but because it was played in Houston, and because the PITCHf/x cameras were operational and outputting information, we got some stats to supplement the scouting reports we’ve read.
Notes on prospects who stood out in Cactus and Grapefruit League play, including the Red Sox' Xander Bogaerts (good) and Allen Webster (bad).
Xander Bogaerts: 1-3, R, HR. Bogaerts has come on strong of late and will be just fine. Everyone in New England, please just take a deep breath and relax.
Carlos Martinez, RHP, Cardinals: 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K. Martinez’s first outing as a reliever since the news that he would not make the Cardinals rotation did not go well. We can only speculate as to why—though I won’t—but regardless of the reason, it clearly wasn’t his best performance.
A look at the top draft picks and international bonus babies from the past year, and how they rank for fantasy purposes.
Once the holidays have moved on and the calendar has flipped, dynasty leaguers all start to crawl out of the woodwork to submit their rosters for the current season and draft the new group of eligibles to dream on. As Wooderson would say, "that’s what I love about these current-year draftees, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” The promise of the 2013 signees collectively pool together to give dynasty-league rebuilders new hope of contention and dynasty-league contenders new trade chips with which to get the pieces to put them over the top.
And while the 2013 crop isn't the strongest we've seen in recent memory, there are still high-upside options from which to choose. The slight quirk of this year is that the options with the most fantasy upside are, for the most part, not the high school players. In fact, only one of the top six players on this list fit into that category—which is a change of pace from last season, when Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, and Addison Russell all fell into that space (and are all now top-10 prospects in the game). There is no prep arm with more impact potential than Jonathan Gray and no prep bat with more power potential than Kris Bryant. On the international front, just like last year, the crop is headlined by a Cuban hitter and a Japanese pitcher who have impact upside—though for fantasy purposes, they may be less exciting than Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes. Then again, that's not much of a knock on Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Abreu, as you'd be hard pressed to find a one-two punch to match them in most seasons.
A look at the players whom junior-circuit clubs selected in the first round of the draft in June.
Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis): .266/.337/.343 with 7 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 13 SB, 3 CS, 15 BB, and 49 K in 169 at-bats. Anderson is a toolsy player selected out of junior college. He was finally able to focus all of his time on baseball in 2013 after previously being a multi-sport athlete. Anderson offers plus-plus running ability and good bat speed, and some believe he has a chance to hit for power. It is going to be difficult for Anderson to stay at short, but scouts believe he could transition to center field if necessary. The White Sox paid $2.16 million for Anderson, and he was instantly in the conversation for the top prospect in their system.
A non-scout goes undercover at Evans Diamond to evaluate the potential 1-1 draft pick.
I saw Mark Appel pitch once before. It was early last season, down on The Farm, AKA Sunken Diamond, when it looked for all the world like he would be selected first overall in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
His stuff was electric. Fastball sat in the mid-90s and his slider absolutely unfair. It was there, and then it wasn't. To his opponents—mostly good-enough college hitters whose careers would end when they received their diplomas—it must have seemed like the ball was teleporting, Nightcrawler-style. Here it comes, the BAMF! It's in the dirt, six inches off the plate.
Evaluating the mechanics of the first five pitchers chosen in this year's draft.
The 2012 First-Year Player Draft had a tough act to follow, as last year's draft featured a historic wealth of pitching talent, including a record-setting four hurlers being selected before any hitters went off the board. This year's draft was hitter-heavy at the top, with position players selected with the top three overall picks. Pitchers then went flying off the board in five of the next six selections. The only pitcher in the discussion at no. 1 overall was Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, but his bonus demands may have been responsible for a stock drop at the 11th hour.
The draft content on MLB Network had scouting videos of the top players, including in-game footage, and I utilized these scouting clips for many of the evaluations that follow. I have also provided links to each player's “draft report” from mlb.com, though in some cases the footage leaves much to be desired. With so few pitches spread across such disparate situations, I have opted to forgo the Mechanics Report Cards for the draftees. Sample-size caveats aside, the development patterns of young pitchers can be erratic, so consider these evaluations to be more of a Mechanics Progress Report. We will tackle the pitchers selected among the top 10 overall picks, before venturing deeper into the first round next week.