Mark Appel may have thrown his last pitch at the Double-A level, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that the 2013 No. 1 overall pick is likely to be promoted to Triple-A following a strong Double-A showing on Sunday. Appel’s overall numbers aren’t great due to a pair of ugly starts in May, but as Drellich points out, the Stanford product has worked to a 2.17 ERA with a 24-to-8 K/BB ratio in 29 innings over his past five starts. Appel’s production at Triple-A will be worth monitoring, as Drellich also adds that the Astros want to assess their internal starting pitching options before exploring a trade for an upgrade.
Here’s more on Appel and some other top prospects filtering up toward the big leagues …
- Appel spoke with MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart about his desire to join close friends and former Double-A teammates Lance McCullers, Vincent Velasquez and Carlos Correa in the Majors. He tells McTaggart that the key to his turnaround has been establishing his fastball earlier in counts in order to get ahead of hitters — something on which he has worked repeatedly with pitching coach Doug Brocail.
- The Yankees have announced that slugger Aaron Judge will move up to Triple-A Scranton, as Jack Curry of the YES Network was first to report on Twitter. The massive outfielder cracked top-100 lists to start the year, and has performed well thus far in his first run at Double-A, slashing .284/.350/.516 with 12 home runs in 280 plate appearances.
- Red Sox outfielder Manuel Margot has received a bump up to Double-A, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe tweets. The 20-year-old has slashed .282/.321/.420 and added twenty steals over his 198 turns at bat at the High-A level this year. Baseball America rated him the organization’s seventh-best prospect entering the year, crediting Margot with the potential to develop into a true five-tool performer who can play center field. We heard some chatter this spring that the Phillies were eyeing the interesting prospect as a possible piece in a Cole Hamels deal.
- We saw a fascinating deal last weekend involving the effective sale of young righty Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks to the Braves. Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron discusses the deal in terms of prospect valuation. He reckons that Toussaint is probably worth about $20MM based on consensus prospect evaluations. While Arizona’s internal assessment may well have been lower, as Cameron notes, it still seems puzzling that the team cut bait given the organization’s current standing.
- Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa weighed in on the Toussaint deal, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. La Russa says the move was all about opening budgetary space to improve the big league roster in the relatively near future. “The ability to to have some payroll flexibility is critical to adding a couple of pieces,” said La Russa. “I don’t think we’re going to need a lot of pieces because we’re going to develop with this core. But if you can make the right move or two with somebody, that brings a lot to the table. Payroll flexibility is important.” Toussaint was a ways off from contributing at the big league level, said the club’s top baseball decisionmaker, while the D’Backs “think [their future] is sooner rather than later.” All said, La Russa indicated that the club simply preferred to move the salary of Bronson Arroyo to holding onto the lottery ticket of a young arm. “We’re not pushing a five-year plan, which is what Touki is,” he said. “Does that mean, just in retrospect, since I was there, should I have told (former scouting director Ray Montgomery), ’Ray, don’t draft a Touki?’ Maybe I should have, but that was my first draft.” The 19-year-old (as of two days ago) Toussaint, of course, was the first name that Arizona called in last year’s amateur draft. Notably, as Piecoro has observed, this year’s selections were heavy on collegiate players.