Astros top pitching prospect Mark Appel lit up in return to rotation at High-A Lancaster

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Mark Appel, the first overall pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, was demoted from the starting rotation at High-A Lancaster on April 25 and sent back to extended spring training after posting ugly numbers over his first four appearances. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow offered optimism at the time, telling the Houston media that the young right-hander was simply struggling to adjust to the unique piggyback-start system being used at Lancaster.

But that is clearly not the only thing wrong here.

Appel returned to Lancaster’s rotation on Saturday night and got shelled for 10 runs on 10 hits — including three homers — over just 1 1/3 innings in a loss to the Dodgers’ High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. He now owns an 11.93 ERA in 14 1/3 frames this season.

The 22-year-old recieved a $6.35 million signing bonus from Houston after being drafted out of Stanford University in June 2013. The belief was that he could be major league-ready by late 2014.

That’s obviously not going to be the case.

Red Sox designate Eduardo Núñez for assignment

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The Red Sox announced a handful of roster moves on Monday afternoon: infielder Eduardo Núñez has been designated for assignment, pitcher Hector Velázquez has been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, and pitcher Ryan Weber and 1B/OF Sam Travis have both been recalled from Pawtucket.

Núñez, 32, has had an awful year, batting .228/.243/.305 with two homers and 20 RBI in 174 plate appearances. He’s owed the remainder of his $4 million salary. Odds are Núñez will pass through waivers and become a free agent, after which his odds of landing with a team will go up.

Velázquez, 30, tossed 36 pitches in an inning of work against the Dodgers last night, taking the loss after allowing three runs in the 12th inning.

Travis, 25, is back for his second stint in the majors this season. Thus far, he has a .387 OPS in 31 trips to the dish.

Weber, 28, has accrued 19 1/3 innings thus far, allowing 11 runs on 24 hits and three walks with 14 strikeouts.