Astros prospect Mark Appel was terrible at Single-A and then there was a weird quasi-controversy about him throwing a bullpen session in Houston, but now the former No. 1 overall pick is thriving at Double-A.
Last night Appel tossed eight innings of shutout, two-hit ball while striking out 10 and and walking one. And, according to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, the 23-year-old right-hander’s average fastball clocked in at 96 miles per hour.
Appel had an ugly 9.74 ERA in 12 starts at high Single-A to begin the season, but since a promotion to Double-A he’s made six starts with a 3.15 ERA and 34/10 K/BB ratio in 34 innings while allowing just one home run.
When the Astros acquired suspended reliever Roberto Osuna it was viewed as a low-price move to bolster their bullpen. Now, it turns out, it was a move to get a closer. Manager A.J. Hinch said as much today, anyway, telling MLB Network Radio that Osuna is going to get most of Houston’s save chances going forward.
This comes the morning after a late innings loss to the Mariners. The closer who Osuna is going to take over for — Hector Rondon — didn’t even pitch in that game, with the damage coming on a three-run Robinson Cano homer off of Collin McHugh. Rondon has blown saves in two of his last three appearances, however, coughing up runs against the Mariners at home on August 12 and against the A’s this past Friday.
Osuna has made five appearances since joining the Astros, allowing one run, striking out three and walking one in five innings of work. Before that he saved nine games for the Blue Jays prior to his domestic violence suspension.