Mark Appel tops Baseball America’s rankings for 2013 draft

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Now, admittedly August of 2012 is ridiculously early to be thinking about the June of 2013 draft, but Baseball America just released their top-50 rankings and Stanford right-hander Mark Appel holds the top spot after declining to sign with the Pirates as the No. 8 pick this year.

Pittsburgh will get the No. 9 pick next year as compensation for being unable to sign Appel, who turned down the $3.8 million maximum amount the Pirates could offer without losing a draft pick and will now return to college for his senior season.

If he ends up being the No. 1 pick next year Appel will likely make significantly more than $3.8 million, but then again the Astros figure to have the No. 1 pick in 2013 and they passed on him with the top pick this year. Appel (and agent Scott Boras) will also have much less leverage this time around, as returning to Stanford will no longer be an option, and of course he must avoid an injury.

Generally speaking Baseball America pegs the 2013 draft class as not particularly strong, much like the 2012 version, and in addition to Appel college pitchers hold the No. 2 (Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek) and No. 3 spots (Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea) in their rankings.

Astros’ bullpen throws combined one-hitter for MLB-best 30th win

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The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.

The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.

After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.

Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.