Pirates’ top pick Mark Appel rocked in College World Series

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It’s been a rough week for Stanford’s Mark Appel.

On Monday night he fell to the eighth spot in the MLB Amateur Draft after being mocked by most experts to go in the top three.

And he was selected by an organization (the Pirates) that he clearly isn’t thrilled about joining.

Now his dream of an NCAA championship is in jeopardy.

Appel was shelled for seven runs (five earned) over four innings Friday in Game 1 of Stanford’s first-round matchup with Florida State. He yielded five hits and walked four while throwing only 55 of his 95 pitches for strikes.

His upside remains sky-high and his body of work with the Cardinal speaks for itself, but you can bet Pirates management was watching the rough outing. And may bring it up in negotiations with Appel’s agent, Scott Boras.

Stanford must now win two straight games over the Seminoles to advance to the second round.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves