Mark Appel

MLB draft picks 6-10: Pirates halt Mark Appel’s free-fall


No. 6 – Chicago Cubs – high school OF Albert Almora

Alm0ra is considered exceptionally polished for a high school player, already possessing plenty of experience with Team USA. His tools aren’t necessarily what expects from a high first-round pick, but he does have the speed to last in center field and a line drive swing that could be good for home runs in Wrigley Field someday.

No. 7 – San Diego Padres – high school LHP Max Fried

Fried becomes the first high school pitcher off the board, largely because his Harvard-Westlake teammate Lucas Gioloto, who was looked at a potential No. 1 overall pick, has been injured all year. Fried throws in the low-90s consistently, and both his curve and changeup could be plus pitches by the time he’s ready for the majors.

No. 8 – Pittsburgh Pirates – Stanford RHP Mark Appel

The expected first overall pick, Appel instead goes behind two other college pitchers and lands with the Pirates. The 20-year-old Appel had a breakthrough junior season, going 10-1 with a 2.27 ERA and a 127/26 K/BB ratio in 119 innings for Stanford. The negative is that he wasn’t nearly as good in previous seasons. He didn’t make the rotation as a freshman and finished with a 5.92 ERA in 38 innings. Last year, he was solid but far from dominant in going 6-7 with a 3.02 ERA and an 86/29 K/BB ratio in 110 1/3 innings.

Appel throws in the mid-90s and has a very good slider. He possesses decent feel for his changeup, but the pitch still has room for improvement. If he progresses as hoped, he could well become a top-of-the-rotation guy.

No. 9 – Miami Marlins – Oklahoma State LHP Andrew Heaney

Heaney had some of the best numbers of any college pitcher this year, going 8-2 with a 1.60 ERA and a 140/22 K/BB ratio in 118 1/3 innings for Oklahoma State. He throws 90-92 mph and shows advanced feel for both his curve and changeup. He should be able to move quickly, even if he doesn’t quite possesses the same upside as the right-handers taken ahead of him here.

No. 10 – Colorado Rockies – high school OF David Dahl

The Rockies have made a habit of going with pitching in the first round, but they take the third high school outfielder of the board here. Dahl’s a left-handed hitter with a line drive swing that could play very well at Coors Field. He won’t be a candidate to play center field in the majors, but he should prove pretty good in a corner with time and experience.


Pick 1: Astros select shortstop Carlos Correa                          .

Picks 2-5: Mariners take catcher Mike Zunino at No. 3           .

Picks 11-15: A’s, Mets select high school shortstops                .

Picks 16-20: Nationals roll the dice on RHP Giolito                .

Picks 21-31: Blue Jays add potential 2012 callup Stroman

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.