Scouting Notes: Appel Shines In Cape Playoffs

ORLEANS, Mass. -- Mark Appel is pitching like the number one overall pick in the 2012 draft. He's proving to be far beyond just a college pitcher with a good fastball and is showing a feel for his craft that's currently without equal in this crop of collegiate arms. However, upon seeing him for a third time this summer, it's clear that he's not completely without flaws to keep an eye on.

Pitching for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, Mark Appel played the role of secret weapon in the opening round of the playoffs, as he made just his third start since making his way up to the Cape. Facing off against a tough Orleans' lineup, Appel was downright masterful on Friday night, pitching eight innings of shutout baseball, and racking up 10 strikeouts along the way.

Early on, the 6-foot-6 righty worked at 94-96 mph, topping 97 twice in the first three innings. But, velocity was and has been far from the most impressive part of his game. Appel was able to make adjustments on the fly and mix in his plus 81-85 mph changeup as well as his plus 83-86 mph slider. His changeup was his most effective pitch of the night, showing big dead fish fade away from lefties. He got numerous swings and misses on this pitch.

His slider command was not quite where it typically is, but he still located fairly well and showed his typically outstanding late bite. He has command on both sides of the plate with it, showing he can front door it on righties and back foot it on lefties. When he's spotting it, it can be a near unhittable pitch.

As good as the Stanford right-hander was, however, and as good a feel for pitching as he showed in mixing his pitches masterfully, there has to be at least some concern about his velocity in the later innings. After not dipping below 94 mph in the early innings, Appel sat around 90-92 in the latter innings. In those innings, he did reach back once or twice for 95 mph fastballs but mostly began relying on the movement he was getting in the low 90s. Perhaps he was laying back on his velocity and this was by design or perhaps not, but it's worth keeping an eye on. It has been a trend in his other starts this summer as well.

The bottom line, however, is that at this moment Appel is clearly college baseball's most complete pitcher and the front runner for the top overall pick. He has the pure power arm to reach 97-98 mph, as well as the advanced feel for pitching and dominant secondary pitches. He knows how to generate fastball movement, set hitters up, and even pitch backwards at times.

This is a very intelligent young pitcher, and if he continues to develop at this rate he's a very safe bet to pitch at a high level in the big leagues. And, once he does turn pro it won't take him very long to get up there.

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