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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.

  1. Kraftster says:
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    The Appel selection by the Pirates this year still makes a lot of sense — they will have the #9 overall next year for not signing him.

    All early reports seem to be that Appel, based upon his scouting report right now, would go anywhere from #5-#12 next season.

    Appel’s decision is the thing that should be questioned. The decision by the Pirates was a calculated gamble that, in the end, has very little risk. Appel, on the hand, faces risk of injury, poor performance, and perhaps a blow to his value in the eyes of some teams for his handling of this season.

    Who knows how much the expectations the Pirates brass had for their success this season played into the decision. But, with the current numbers, the team would not pick until the final third of the first round next year. Now they have a high, top 10 selection in a much better draft than this season. While it delays things a year, there’s no reason the Pirates shouldn’t wind up with a player of approximately equal value next year.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Kraftster, As it played out, I don’t think Pittsburgh could’ve handled it any better. They offered all they could without making major future sacrifices, so I agree with you on this end. I also agree that Appel has the most to lose here. I can’t imagine he’ll see more than that 3.8MM offer a year from now after this ordeal. But still, it’s never a good thing to let a top-ten draft pick slip through your fingers.

  2. Greg says:
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    ok Boys…..lets get an opinion. Is Ben Sheets upside better then owning the following pitchers? Freddy Garcia (has RP/SP designation), Lucas Harrell (RP/SP), or Ricky Nolasco? in my league the RP/SP is valuable bc of scoring issues. I’m thinking Garcia might be the odd man out? Thoughts?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Greg, I agree that Garcia is your low man there. I do like the upside of Sheets over Garcia.

  3. appauling says:
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    Sorry, not related to minor-leaguers.

    This question has no context, but I’d appreciate anyone’s opinion:

    Quintin Berry or Norichika Aoki?

    Thanks.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @appauling, All questions are welcome. Definitely Aoki.

      • appauling says:
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        @Scott Evans, Thanks!!

  4. TheNewGuy says:
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    No minor league questions this week, but since Grey doesnt believe in Ben Sheets ill ask you. Big Bens start today enough to consider picking him up over Kuroda/E-Jax? 10 teamer, ive been flipping this final rotation spot and Sheets does have the most upside to stick.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @TheNewGuy, I think Grey is more skeptical about the health/longevity of Sheets than he is about his upside, but I’m sure he’ll clarify his thoughts on that tomorrow. I like the idea of scooping him if you’ve got flexibility, but it doesn’t seem as if you’ve got enough room to work with in this shallow format. I wouldn’t drop either of those two for Sheets at this point.

  5. Gary Brown says:
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    Does anyone has insight on Gary Brown’s high # of CS? Seems like he is getting caught at a pretty high clip.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Gary Brown, The speed is there. No one denies that. But with 19 CS a year ago, plus 14 & counting this year, it looks like Brown needs to work on base running in general. Instincts on the basepaths are often overlooked as learned skills. Speed is huge, but knowing when & how to use it is a key part of player development.

  6. Buzzdainer says:
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    In a keeper league, whom do you like better, Kolten Wong or Tyler Skaggs?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Buzzdainer, Skaggs.

      • Buzzdainer says:
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        @Scott Evans, Thanks!

        How about Jonathan Singleton? How would he rank compared to Wong and Skaggs? My team is out of it this year, so I’m trying to configure my keepers for next season and beyond.

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          @Buzzdainer, Skaggs > Singleton > Wong… all three are pretty safe options, though.

          • Buzzdainer says:
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            @Scott Evans, Thank you!

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