Many saw Mark Appel as the odds-on No. 1 overall pick in last month’s First Year Player Draft. Signability concerns, however, caused his stock to slip, and the tall, athletic RHP out of Stanford fell to Pittsburgh at No. 8 overall. In retrospect, he should’ve fallen further, as Appel refused a signing bonus worth $3.8 million, opting to return to Stanford for his senior season. Must be frustrating for Pirates fans. A larger offer from the club would’ve forfeited their 1st-round pick for 2013 under the new CBA terms. Instead, their first selection for 2012 was for naught. With arms like Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole already in their minor league ranks, the addition of Appel would’ve given Pittsburgh one of the most impressive collection of starting pitching prospects in the game. Certainly much of the frustration here needs to be directed toward MLB’s new draft slotting system. After paying above-slot bonuses to several later-round picks, the Pirates were handcuffed when it came time to negotiate with Appel and his agent Scott Boras. Still, better foresight from Pittsburgh a month ago could’ve avoided this unfortunate situation. Appel should be near the top of next year’s class once again. For more on him, here’s a brief scouting report I wrote pre-draft.
Note: Based on overwhelming reader outcry (AKA one commenter) for links to player stats, I’ve included hyperlinks to respective Baseball-Reference player cards. I’ll continue to do so going forward.
Michael Choice | OF, Athletics — After blasting 30 bombs a year a go at High-A, Choice has struggled to regain his power stroke at Double-A. He’s collected just eight homers to this point in the season, but his last ten have been encouraging: .395/.465/.605. A big second half would get the highly-touted outfielder back on track.
Liam Hendriks | RHP, Twins — The Aussie didn’t fare so well in eight big league outings earlier this year. Since his demotion to Triple-A, however, he’s 7-0 through nine starts, and has posted a 1.79 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP. He should get another chance in the majors if this caliber of production continues.
Gary Brown | OF, Giants — I mentioned last week that Brown was heating up. It now suffices to say that the heat-up has ceased. He’s now simply hot. His hit streak has reached double-digits, and during that stretch most games have been multi-hit performances. A .463 AVG through his last 41 PA has brought his season mark up to .292.
Jonathan Villar | SS, Astros — Villar is a promising offense-first prospect at short with the potential to make a decent impact in the fantasy game once he arrives. He’d collected 11 homers and 39 stolen bases at Double-A through Friday, but those figures will remain stagnant for a while after Villar punched a door and broke his hand. He’ll be shelved for six weeks or so. Plenty of time for him to plot a better attack against this rather formidable doorway.
Matt Harvey / Zach Wheeler | RHPs, Mets — With Dillon Gee likely out for the rest of the season due to shoulder surgery, the Mets will consider a few candidates to replace him in their rotation. It looks like Matt Harvey will get the first look to fill the void, but the Mets have stated that Wheeler is certainly in the mix as well. Both are putting up nice years in the minors, and both bring frontline starter potential.
Jacob Turner | RHP, Tigers — Most figured Turner would be racking up starts in the big leagues by now, but it’s been a strange up-and-down year for the righty and he’s ended up spending most of the year in Triple-A. Following his most recent outing, though, it seems he might resurface in Detroit shorty, hopefully on a permanent basis this time. Turner tossed a complete game shutout last week, allowing only three baserunners in an extremely efficient performance.
Javier Baez | SS, Cubs — Baez has quietly been putting up a nice year in the Midwest League, batting .309/.377/.522. He’s making a little more noise of recent, though, having cracked 3 homers through his last six games. Baez is for real, and his skill set should carry him to the majors in due time. Nothing is certain, however, so for the sake of the fresh neck ink he’s sporting, let’s really hope things don’t fizzle out for him.
Billy Hamilton | SS, Reds — As anticipated, Hamilton was promoted to Double-A following his trip to KC where he participated in the Futures Game. He’ll continue his quest for a billion stolen bases with Pensacola.
Ben Sheets | RHP, Braves — Julio Teheran doesn’t seem ready, so the Braves are taking a flyer with the oft-injured veteran, Ben Sheets. Scouts are reporting mid-90’s velocity and plus secondary stuff in his two minor league appearances, and a 1.89 FIP is certainly encouraging. Looks like he’ll be joining the Braves’ rotation today, and while Grey advises to steer clear, I’m wondering if a speculative scoop is worthwhile — he was as filthy as anyone when healthy. Provided you have the roster flexibility, there’s not a whole lot to lose here. But feel free to bash me in the comments after Sheets is removed in the 2nd inning with an undisclosed injury.