Astros prospect right-hander Mark Appel set to be promoted to Double-A

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Astros prospect right-hander Mark Appel had his best start of the season on Thursday and now Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that he’s set to be promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi.

When the Astros chose Appel first overall in last June’s First-Year Player Draft, many believed that he was on the fast track to the major leagues. Of course, it hasn’t worked out that way. After a solid showing in his pro debut last season, the 23-year-old has struggled to the tune of a 9.74 ERA over 12 starts this season with High-A Lancaster. He got a late start this spring following an appendectomy in late January, but the Astros sent him to a full-season affiliate anyway and he had some trouble adjusting to the organization’s piggyback pitching rotation. He has also missed some time with right wrist and thumb issues.

It’s been a rough ride, but Thursday’s start provided reason for optimism, as Appel allowed two runs on five hits and no walks while striking out seven batters. He’s hoping to look back on his struggles as a learning experience.

“It’s been the worst experience of my life,” Appel said. “I would say I’ll look back at my time in Lancaster this whole season… whenever it ends, whether I end up going to Corpus at some point this year or the season ends, I’ll look back at the summer and say ‘Wow, I really learned a lot.’”

Justin Masterson is retired and doing missionary work

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Fancred’s Jon Heyman reports that pitcher Justin Masterson is retired from baseball and currently doing missionary work, according to his agent Randy Rowley.

Masterson, 33, hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2015, though he had been trying to find work going into the past season but never latched on with a team. He spent 2016 in the Pirates’ minor league system and 2017 at the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate.

Masterson spent parts of eight seasons in the majors with the Red Sox, Indians, and Cardinals. Across 258 appearances, 184 of which were starts, the right-hander compiled a 4.31 ERA with 1,004 strikeouts and 498 walks in 1,201 innings of work.