Stanford grad Appel adjusting well to the minor leagues | July 19, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - July 19, 2013

Stanford grad Appel adjusting well to the minor leagues

by Rick Eymer

Stanford grad Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall selection in this year's First-Year Player Draft, lived up to that billing in his Midwest League debut.

Appel, who was selected by Houston and signed quickly soon thereafter, threw four scoreless innings for Class A Quad Cities on Sunday, helping his team beat Dayton, 9-2, in 90-degree heat in Davenport, Iowa. Appel walked one and struck out three while not gaining the decision.

"I've had a chance to meet a bunch of guys in Quad Cities now and build relationships," Appel told Curt Rallo. "I'm enjoying the time I have here now. I don't mind going around and seeing all the affiliates, versus going straight to Double-A. The goal in mind is being a Major League pitcher for as long as possible. As long as I'm working toward that goal in this short time I have for the rest of the season, I'll be happy."

After rising quickly through short-season ball, Appel said he didn't see much of a difference in his first shot at full-season competition.

"I think it's pretty similar in regards to talent," Appel told Doug Miller of "In short-season, most are college guys who signed this year, compared to younger guys here in (Class A). But they're very talented. In regards to differences, it's still baseball. You still have to throw strikes — that's my focus."

Appel's command had been spotless before his Midwest debut. On Sunday, however, he walked a batter for the first time in three Minor League starts.

"I left some of my off-speed stuff up more than I wanted to, and I missed with some pitches I usually like to see strikeouts on," Appel told "But considering it was my third start in about seven weeks, I'm not overly concerned about anything."

Appel, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Monday, already has made some history by becoming a teammate of last year's No. 1 overall pick, Carlos Correa. This is the first time consecutive top selections have been on the same Minor League team.

In his three appearances in the minors (all starts), Appel has an ERA of 2.00 in nine innings, with nine strikeouts, one walk, eight hits and two earned runs.

Appel said he's using this time in the minors to "work on some things that I needed to work on" as well as acclimating himself to the Astros' organization and how it's run. He's also learning how to pitch every fifth day and "to really understanding the differences between college baseball and professional baseball."

* * *

Stanford grad and former No. 1 draft pick of the Colorado Rockies, Greg Reynolds, got the win for the International League in a 4-3 win over the Pacific Coast League in the 2013 Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday in Reno.

Reynolds started the game and gave up two runs, but got the win when Tony Sanchez hit a three-run homer in the second for the International League.

"It was fun," Reynolds told "Obviously, it didn't go as smoothly as I was hoping for, but I have no regrets about it. It's been such a fun experience. Reno's put on quite a show and I loved every minute of it."

A sellout crowd of 10,135 turned out for the game.

Reynolds, who pitches for the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, leads the International League with a 10-2 record and a 2.54 ERA. He last pitched Friday, giving up a run on three hits over seven innings.

Reynolds last pitched in the majors in 2011, with the Rockies. He was 3-0 with a 6.19 ERA in 13 games, three starts.

He pitched for the Round Rock Express (Texas Rangers) last year, going 11-9 with a 5.30 ERA in 27 starts.

Reynolds is off to his best start as a professional, with his 79 strikeouts already a career-high.

* * *

Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro, the seventh former Stanford baseball player to take part in the MLB All-Star Game, didn't see any action Tuesday but was on the winning team as the American League prevailed, 3-0.

Castro, 26, was named as a reserve catcher by manager Jim Leyland on the American League All-Star team for the game played at the New York Mets' Citi Field.

Nineteen field players saw action for the American League, including two catchers.

This is a first for Castro and a first for the Astros, who represented the American League in the All-Star Game for the first time in their 51-year history. Castro is the second Astros catcher ever to make an All-Star team, joining Craig Biggio, who was an All-Star at that position in 1989 and 1991.

Castro joined Jim Lonborg (1967), Bob Boone (1976, 1978-79, 1983), Ed Sprague (1991), Jack McDowell (1991-93), Mike Mussina (1992-94, 1997-98) and Carlos Quentin (2008, 2011) as former Stanford student-athletes to appear in the Midsummer Classic.

The .248 career hitter has posted a .269 clip this season with 12 home runs and 31 RBI. After missing all of the 2011 season with a knee injury, Castro is on pace to hit more home runs than any other catcher in club history. Castro is among the American League leaders in doubles and has ranked alongside the league's top catchers in doubles, homers, slugging percentage and hits.

Chosen by the Houston Astros with the 10th overall pick of the 2008 MLB Draft, Castro finished his three-year Stanford career with a .309 average, 108 runs scored, 26 doubles, five triples, 18 home runs, 106 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 162 games (133 starts).

* * *

Palo Alto High grad Joc Pederson had a single, a walk, and scored a run to help U.S. defeat the World team, 4-2, in the annual Major League Baseball Futures Game on Sunday at Citi Field in New York. Pederson, regarded as the No. 2 minor league prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers, plays for the Chattanooga Lookouts in the Double-A Southern League.


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