Astros players upset over Mark Appel’s promotion to Double-A, bullpen session in Houston

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Mark Appel, the first overall pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, was promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday despite posting a 9.74 ERA and 1.92 WHIP in 44 1/3 innings at High-A Lancaster. And he was invited to Minute Maid Park in Houston on Sunday morning to throw a bullpen session in front of Astros coaches and executives. This stuff is not sitting well with some of the players on the Astros’ current major league roster. Here’s reporter Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle

It’s pretty common for top prospects to be moved aggressively through the minors and to have workouts in front of members of the major league coaching staff, so this anger seems odd. Perhaps it’s the culmination of a growing divide between the Houston front office and some of the Astros’ players — the shady handling of George Springer’s callup and the bungling of the Brady Aiken negotiations only adding fuel to the fire.

“I will handle those conversations internally,” Astros manager Bo Porter told Ortiz on Sunday afternoon. “Any time something affects your clubhouse, I think as the manager you have to handle it.”

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.