No. 1 pick Mark Appel will make his pro debut Friday

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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.

Report: Rockies close to signing Bryan Shaw

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Rockies are close to an agreement with free agent reliever Bryan Shaw. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Shaw’s deal is for three years and will guarantee about $9 million per year.

Shaw, 30, has spent the last five seasons in the Indians’ bullpen. Over that span of time, mostly setting up for closer Cody Allen, Shaw put up an aggregate 3.11 ERA with a 333/119 K/BB ratio in 358 2/3 innings.

The Rockies have been in hot pursuit of bullpen help after losing Greg Holland and Pat Neshek to free agency. Shaw would certainly represent a significant improvement in the bullpen.