No. 1 pick Mark Appel will be shut down soon by Astros

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Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said yesterday that No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel will likely be shut down for the season after making two more starts at Single-A.

Appel has thrown 134.1 innings between college and the minors, so the Astros will stop him from going much beyond 140 total even if that means missing the Midwest League playoffs.

Luhnow indicated to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that Appel “is probably getting fatigued,” which would help explain his underwhelming 4.50 ERA in 28 innings as a pro. Of course, his 24/6 K/BB ratio is considerably more impressive, although that’s still not particularly great for a college ace facing rookie-ball and low Single-A hitters.

Nationals sign George Kontos to minors deal

George Kontos
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The Nationals selected the contract of reliever George Kontos from the Atlantic League Long Island Ducks, per an official announcement on Saturday. The right-hander has been assigned to Triple-A Fresno, but could still make his season debut sometime before the first half of the season draws to a close.

Kontos, 33, hasn’t pitched in the majors since he took a handful of back-to-back-to-back gigs with the Pirates, Indians, and Yankees in 2018. He inked a minor league pact with the Cubs over the offseason, but failed to break camp with the team and was subsequently released in mid-April. He turned in seven strong innings for the Ducks since then, allowing one run and one walk and striking out six of 27 batters in six appearances.

Last year, the veteran reliever posted a combined 4.39 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, and 5.1 SO/9 over 26 2/3 innings. While he hasn’t pitched anywhere close to his career-best numbers in four years, he may still provide some valuable depth for the club, whose bullpen ranks 10th best in the league with a cumulative 4.59 ERA and 5.9 fWAR so far in 2019.