For the first time in nearly a year, Mark Appel looked like a number one overall pick. Pitching for Advanced-A Lancaster last night, the 23 year old starter was in complete control, striking out seven and walking none over six innings of two run ball. It was the longest outing of his professional career and Lancaster went on to defeat Stockton by a score of 5-2, giving Appel his second victory of the season.
It’s been a difficult road for the 2013 first overall pick. Despite undergoing an appendectomy in January, he managed to recover and ready himself for opening. The results were not good though – almost alarming – and the Astros sent him back to extended Spring Training. When he came back at the end of May, Appel was no better, and he entered last night’s start with 10.80 ERA and 10.60 opponents OPS on the season. In his previous appearance on July 16th, he allowed seven earned runs and didn’t make it out of the second inning.
Appel attributes last night’s performance to a recent mechanical adjustment, which could mean that the victory over Stockton was a sign of impending success.
“It wasn’t anything serious,” he told MILB.com’s Tyler Maun, but it did allow him to add “six to eight inches in stride length on each pitch”
While Appel breezed through Stockton, High Desert was lighting up the scoreboard out in Rancho Cucamongo. The Mariners’ Advanced-A Affiliate knocked out 5 home runs as they downed the Dodger club in 10-8 shootout. Left fielder Jabari Henry and first baseman Jordy Lara each left the yard once as they continue on their torrid paces. Henri has hit five home runs and driven in 15 over his last ten games, while Lara is in the midst of one of the best ten game stretches we’ve seen this year, with seven home runs, 18 RBIS, and a .476/.511/1.071 slash line.
Each of them has an OPS hovering just over 1.000 and Henri and Lara are both in the midst of breakout campaigns, ranking second and third in the California League with 21 and 22 home runs, respectively, and fielding OPS’s right above 1.000.
Right fielder Gaby Guerrero also had a huge game, going 3 for 4 with two home runs and two RBIs.
For his Ruthian efforts, Lara (unsurprisingly) earned MILB Hitter of the Week honors in the California League. Taking home Pitcher of the Week recognition was Stockton’s Chris Lamb, who had one of the best starts of his career last Thursday, striking out 11 batters over 6 shutout innings in a victory against High-Desert.
After flipping between the rotation and the bullpen in the lower minors for a couple of years, the 24 year old has been strong, if inconsistent, as a starter this season. In his most recent start on Tuesday, he gave up three runs over five innings in a 3-0 loss to Inland Empire but he held San Jose to one run over 6 2/3 innings on July 11th, and struck out 10 Giants batters on July 6th. Lamb is 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA for the season.
On the other side of that 3-0 loss to Inland Empire, was Empire pitcher Tyler Deloach. He started for the Angels’ affiliate and made quick work of Stockton, striking out seven and issuing no walks over six shutout innings. A 26th round pick, DeLoach, 23, is looking like a late round steal for the thin Los Angeles system. In 112 California League innings this year, he owns a 3.21 ERA and a BB/9 of 3.9, while fanning out over a batter per inning (9.8 K/9).
He could be vying for a promotion. In his last four starts, DeLoach is 4-0 with a 1.11 ERA and 28 strike outs over 24 1/3 innings.