Astros sign No. 1 pick Mark Appel

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Making official what was reported earlier this week, the Astros announced that they’ve come to an agreement with No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel.

Appel, who turned down $3.8 million from the Pirates last year as the No. 8 pick, is expected to receive around $6.35 million. That means returning for his senior season at Stanford turned out very well for Appel, but it also means the Astros would save around $1.45 million compared to the recommended slot bonus for the No. 1 pick, which they can then use to sign other picks.

As a senior Appel went 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA and 130/23 K/BB ratio in 106 innings, holding opponents to a .203 batting average and just two homers in 395 at-bats. Appel is from Houston and Astros owner Jim Crane talked about the right-hander returning home, adding that “hopefully it won’t be too long until he’s ready for the big leagues.”

Last year the Astros passed on Appel with the No. 1 pick to take high school shortstop Carlos Correa, who’s currently hitting .304 with an .830 OPS in 55 games at low Single-A as an 18-year-old.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.