Mark Appel is scheduled to make his professional debut Friday with a start for low Single-A Tri-City less than a month after the Astros drafted him No. 1 overall.
Appel, who agreed to a $6.35 million signing bonus that was nearly $1.5 million below the recommended slot amount for the No. 1 pick, has been working out at the Astros’ spring training complex for the past couple weeks.
When asked about Appel’s timetable, general manager Jeff Luhnow told Chris Abshire of MLB.com: “We’re not going to set any schedule on him, but we will assess him after every game. We don’t want to create too many set expectations for Mark.”
In other words, he’s a 21-year-old college senior and if he dominates low-minors hitters like he should the Astros could move Appel pretty quickly through the farm system. He’ll be on a pitch and innings count, but Luhnow and the Astros have declined to reveal any specifics.
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they will hold their first Pride Night on August 25th.
A lot of teams have Pride Nights, but it’s worth noting that the Cardinals are holding one given some bad press — some fair, some unfair — they have received in recent years when it comes to matters of diversity and inclusion.
Earlier this month the club received criticism from the LGBT community due to Lance Berkman’s presence for the team’s annual Christian Day, given his past comments about transgender people and his participation in a Houston political campaign over access to public restrooms. Recently, a former Cardinals minor league player claimed he left baseball after enduring anti-gay comments from his coaches and teammates.
As club president Bill DeWitt III noted in the official announcement however, the Cardinals have hosted LGBT groups in the past. He says that the club is eager to “remind fans that everyone is welcome at Busch Stadium.” He notes that the event will raise money for the PrideSTL Scholarship Fund which, in DeWitt’s words, “help courageous students in our community.”
Nice move, Cardinals.
Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.
Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.
Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.