The Houston Astros are playing the long game with their franchise rebuilding plan. Like, the long long game, to the chagrin of certain observers who do not care for the lackluster product the team puts on the field in the meantime.
In order for that plan to work the organization must hit on their top draft picks. To date the pick with the most fanfare would have to be starting pitcher Mark Appel. The Astros selected the Stanford University product with the #1 overall pick in 2013. He still might be every bit the pitcher they expect him to be, but for now it sounds like Appel has hit a bit of a setback.
According to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle:
Mark Appel, the top pick in 2013 draft, has been sent from Class A Lancaster to extended spring.Luhnow says he’s not concerned about injury.
“His stuff wasn’t as crisp as it normally was,” Luhnow says of Appel. Luhnow says 4-day tandem pitching was a shock to Appel’s system.
— Jose de Jesus Ortiz (@OrtizKicks) April 25, 2014
The Astros ought to proceed carefully here, as the implementation of said “tandem system” does not seem worth a major hindrance to such a blue chip prospect (not to mention the other problems it creates). But for now, the Astros will take a step back with Appel so that he can get his plus plus pitches back on track.