Mark Appel's Midwest League Debut - July 14, 2013

Scott Halleran

I attended the game at QC today and saw Appel throw four innings. Below are a few thoughts organized by context and then individual players

Context: I had this game circled for many months, mainly because I was going to be in Iowa for work. When I found out that CC would miss due to the Future's Game, I was really bummed. But then I did the math and hoped against hope that Appel might get moved up for my one-shot visit to Davenport, IA. And it happened. I ponied up $14 to sit in the front row, which is the best view I've ever had for a professional baseball game. I watched four players closely. I am not a scout, more of a numbers guy. I did work for a Cal League team one summer, so have some context for watching minor league talent. Without further ado:

Appel: I walked into the stadium in the top of the first with two men on. Winker was up; he was the Reds #1 pick in 2012 and probably their best prospect on Dayton's squad. Appel K'ed him. The next two outs were probably the hardest hit balls, and Bobby Bochering made a diving stab to record the third out.

After that, Appel cruised. He mostly threw fastballs. He didn't get a lot of swing and miss, and there was no gun, so I assume he was around 90-92. A couple players pulled his FB. The fly balls were mostly weak. The grounder that Elkins booted was very routine (btw, a nice little player but NOT a shortstop). In the 3rd, Appel got Winker swinging on a curve. The second out, the FB to center, was on a hanging breaking ball, so I was glad to see him get a swing and miss on a curve. In the 4th he threw a 1-1 changeup and it was filthy. The batter missed by half a foot it seemed. Set him up for a weak groundout. Nobody seemed to know Appel was that big of a deal around me except for one old guy, who also thought it was the only change-up thrown.

Overall, Appel seemed comfortable. He got squeezed a bit in the 2nd but seemed unfazed. He didn't bounce any curves or throw any pitches way out of the zone. I know he didn't get a ton of ground balls, but only two of the flyballs were solid contact fly outs.

Ruiz: The big thing is how young he is and looks. He had a nice groundball single up the middle. In the second at bat he got fooled badly on the first curve from Stephens, who threw about 50% breaking balls. Ruiz wiffed big, and then got way out and front on the second curve. He popped out in the 5th. In the 7th, with two men on, he got a 1-0 fastball and crushed it to right. Unfortunately at the fielder, but it was the hardest hit ball all day. Ruiz made an error on a throw that Bochering should have picked. He also made a poor choice on an FC.

Bochering: he had his best game since the comeback. He's a big boy. The second double was flair, and the first one was better hit, but he still hooked it. It had no backspin and wasn't crushed. Still, he was batting .077 coming in, so the three hits got him above Mendoza. He made one great play, and a good one on an errant throw where he swipe tagged the runner. He got through out at home by 15 feet on one play, and tried to run over the catcher. He's got a huge frame and I can see why he's a prospect.

Minor: classic Luhnow guy; didn't throw too hard, around the strike zone, and threw breaking balls about 40% of the time. The fielding behind him wasn't great. Always around the strike zone and he threw his breaking ball a bunch in warmups.

Otherwise, I didn't watch anybody too closely. A few random thoughts: Gulbranson looked like he had the most advanced approach. I don't think Jesse W. is anything more than org. depth. Jordan Scott has a Brett Butler swing, and is super thin. Still, tall and runs well. He scored from first on a single by Jesse W, where he was running on the pitch. I was bummed that Teoscar sat out. Pena looked good behind the plate and threw out a runner. He also had some nice swings. I'm glad he's still there because he's only 21 and why rush a guy who profiles as a defense-first backup catcher. Let him worry about the defense and handling the staff, especially a staff this young.

It's a cool park, right by the River. The program isn't at all updated and the QC players don't have their names on the jerseys, unlike the Dayton Dragons. Players seemed pretty responsive in the dugout and the atmosphere seemed positive. On a day when everyone was talking about Correa, DDJ, and Springer, this was great debut by one of the crown jewels of the system.