Promotions are suppose to be times of praise and congratulations. But if your former first overall pick Mark Appel and the Houston Astros that may not always be the case.
One of the many issues surrounding the Astros lately is how Appel, who despite being a top pitcher at Stanford, has struggled mightily this season with the Lancaster JetHawks.
Mark Appel 2014 season stats: 12 games started, 2-5, 9.74 ERA, 1.917 WHIP, 11 BB, 40 SO, 15.0 H9, 1.8 HR9
But in a surprise move the front office decided it was time to promote the young righthander to the Double-A level to play for the Corpus Christi Hooks.
Source: Mark Appel set for promotion to Class AA Corpus Christi http://t.co/xp8yKDn10C
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) July 26, 2014
At first glance this promotion seems like a knee-jerk reaction from the front office in regards to his latest start in which he went surrendered just two runs in six innings of quality work on July 24th. Maybe they viewed the timing of the promotion as a confidence builder for the former Stanford star. Perhaps they speculate that pitching in the hitter-friendly California League was too much for him and needed a change of scenery in the Texas League.
It is clear though that Appel’s 2014 season hasn’t gone the way that many had envisioned, but there is still time for it to be salvaged depending on his performance with the Hooks. That should be the end of this story, right?
Unfortunately, when the Astros are involved then controversy has been sure to follow as of late.
While in transit to Corpus Christi, the Astros had Appel swing by Minute Maid Park on Sunday morning to throw a bullpen session.
But this apparently did not sit well for some of the current players of the Astros.
“It’s (expletive) unbelievable,” an Astros player just said out of the blue about Mark Appel being allowed throw a bullpen.
— Jose de Jesus Ortiz (@OrtizKicks) July 27, 2014
While which players are making these kind of statements is unknown to the public, it is disheartening to learn of any more bad news regarding the Astros organization. Any source of conflict and controversy in the clubhouse of a rebuilding club is never a good sign.
Now, the player’s speaking out may be offended about how Mark Appel is supposedly being babied and coddled by the organization. Or they could feel another Lancaster JetHawk such as Josh Hader is more deserving of the promotion to Corpus Christi. The numbers below paint a picture where that could be the case.
Josh Hader, 2014 stats: 20 appearances (14 games started), 9-1, 2.46 ERA, 1.074 WHIP, 33 BB, 105 SO, 6.5 H9, 0.8 HR9
But regardless of opinions or comparison of stats the reasoning behind the promotion is very simple: Mark Appel is the former first overall pick and the rules apply differently with top draft picks.
Whether that is fair or not is up for debate, but that is the cold reality of the situation. (Note: Our editor, Yoni Pollak, will share his thoughts on the matter later today). The Astros want to set up Appel to succeed, like with any of their players, and at the same time provide an example of progress within the organization in light of the 2014 MLB draft debacle. But this situation clearly did not work out that way.
Now, what remains to be seen is how will they impact the organization going forward. Appel has an excellent opportunity to prove he was worth being the first overall pick last year. It is also within the realm of possibility that Hader will join Appel in Corpus very soon. And how Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter address the issues within the clubhouse without alienating players further will be something to watch in the coming weeks.
This will be a very interesting second half of the season for the Astros, and with the trade deadline inching closer there may be more changes coming to the roster in light of these recent events.
Stay tuned Astros fans!