Astros close to signing No. 1 pick Mark Appel

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Last year, after falling from projected No. 1 pick to No. 8 pick Mark Appel and agent Scott Boras played hardball with the Pirates, turning down $3.8 million to go back to school for his senior season.

This year Appel went No. 1 overall to the Astros–who passed on him in 2012–and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the two sides are already close to a deal.

As a senior Appel can take his sweet time negotiating because the normal deadline doesn’t apply, but according to Passan “one club source expects Appel to be signed by the middle of next week.”

No word yet on the money, but the slot amount for the No. 1 pick is $7.8 million or more than double what the Pirates offered Appel last year. Returning to Stanford for his senior season carried a ton of risk for Appel, but it’s tough to argue that it didn’t work out exactly as he (and Boras) planned.

After experiencing his first draft as the Astros’ pro scouting director former Baseball Prospectus writer Kevin Goldstein talked to Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller about life behind the scenes and how the decision to draft Appel came down to the wire. Interesting stuff, so check it out.

Marcus Stroman loses no-hit bid in the seventh inning of WBC final against Puerto Rico

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Update (11:57 PM ET): And it’s over. Angel Pagan led off the bottom of the seventh with a line drive double down the left field line off of Stroman, ending the no-hitter. Manager Jim Leyland immediately removed Stroman from the game.

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U.S. starter Marcus Stroman has held Puerto Rico hitless through six innings thus far in the World Baseball Classic final. The Blue Jays’ right-hander has held the opposition to just one base runner — a walk — with three strikeouts on 68 pitches.

WBC rules limit a pitcher to throwing a maximum of 95 pitches in the Championship Round, so Stroman has 27 pitches left with which to play. If he hits the limit during the at-bat, he can continue throwing to the completion of that at-bat. Needless to say, though, Stroman won’t be finishing his potential no-no.

The U.S. has given four runs of support to Stroman. Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer in the third inning. Then, in the fifth, Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen both provided RBI singles. Update: The U.S. tacked on three more in the top of the seventh when Brandon Crawford drove in two with a bases-loaded single and Giancarlo Stanton followed up with an RBI single.

We’ll keep you updated as Stroman and any pitchers that follow him attempt to complete the no-hitter. Shairon Martis is the only player to throw a no-hitter in WBC history. However, the game ended after seven innings due to the mercy rule, or as it’s known now, the “early termination” rule.

Video: Ian Kinsler homers in WBC final, rounds bases solemnly

Harry How/Getty Images
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Ian Kinsler found himself in hot water on Wednesday evening when he criticized the way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play baseball. It is his hope that kids watching the World Baseball Classic decide to emulate the emotionless way players from the U.S. play baseball as opposed to the exciting, cheerful way players from other countries tend to play the game.

Needless to say, Kinsler’s comments didn’t sit well with many people, but he has the most recent laugh. Kinsler broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third inning of Wednesday night’s WBC final against Puerto Rico, slugging a two-run home run to left-center field at Dodger Stadium off of Seth Lugo.

Kinsler, of course, rounded the bases solemnly which is sure to highlight just how cool and exciting the game of baseball is to international viewers.