Astros prospect Mark Appel dealing with tendinitis in his thumb

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With this year’s First-Year Player Draft underway, it only makes sense to check in on the progress of last year’s No. 1 pick, Mark Appel.

In case you haven’t noticed, Appel has had a rough go of things this season. The 22-year-old struggled to adapt to the Astros’ piggyback starter system with High-A Lancaster, giving up 10 runs on 17 hits and four walks over 13 innings before being sent to extended spring training. He made his return to Lancaster on Saturday and was rocked for 10 runs on 10 hits (including three home runs) over just 1 1/3 innings. It appears that we have an explanation for at least part of the struggles.

According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said that Appel was scratched from his start with Lancaster today due to tendinitis in his right thumb. The good news is that it’s not a major concern. He’s expected to resume throwing tomorrow and make his next start one week from today.

When the Astros drafted Appel No. 1 overall last June, many said that he could make his major league debut by the end of 2014. That looks doubtful right now, though it’s obviously way too soon to write him off for the long term. If anything, it functions as a reminder that nobody is a sure thing.

Cody Bellinger continues to lead all All-Star vote-getters

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As you’ll recall, we have a new All-Star voting system in place this year. It’s a two-tiered system.

The “the Primary,” is underway and runs through June 21. That’s just the regular “vote for whoever you want stuff.” After it’s over, the top three vote-getters at each position will then be placed on a new ballot — “The Starter’s Election” — from which fans will then vote again during a single 28-hour period to decide who starts the All-Star Game. The results of that will be announced on June 27. The bench guys and pitchers and stuff will be chosen as usual, with full rosters announced a couple of days later.

Major League Baseball just gave us an update of who’s leading the primary. The overall leaders at each position break down thusly:

Here are the more extensive leaderboards, with the shaded names belonging to players who, if voting stopped now, would make the second round. First, the American League:

And now the National League:

Vote early, vote often.