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.

Mike Moustakas sets Royals single-season record with 37th home run

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Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.

The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.

Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.

Chris Sale records his 300th strikeout this season

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.

Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.

Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.