Mark Appel, the overall No. 1 pick in 2013 and the Astros’ No. 3 prospect, has undergone an appendectomy, but the team anticipates the righthander will report to spring training on Feb. 15, the reporting date for pitchers and catchers.
“Mark will be fine,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement released by the team. “He will report to camp on time. Once he arrives in spring training, we’ll see where he is at health-wise and take it from there. We anticipate that he will either be ready to work out at the start of camp or very close to ready.”
Appel pairs a fastball with a potentially plus slider and an average to plus changeup. His stuff was crisper and firmer as an amateur than in his pro debut. He didn't show as much velocity, sitting 88-94 mph some nights at low Class A Quad Cities. He would tip his changeup by slowing his arm, and he struggled to locate his slider. Amateur scouts saw a potential front-line starter, but pro scouts saw a middle-of-the-rotation candidate.
Despite struggling somewhat in his first year as a pro, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in Houston before the end of the season. Still, the Astros won’t rush him in 2014.