Astros right-hander Mark Appel, the top overall pick of the 2013 MLB draft, has endured a rough season thus far: 9.74 ERA after 12 starts for High-A Lancaster. Even so, the Astros, according to a report by Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, are poised to promote Appel to Double-A Corpus Christi.
This seems like a very curious decision at first blush, but as Drellich notes, Appel, 23, is coming off his best start of the season. Also, Lancaster is a launching pad in the wildly hitter-friendly California League, so you can't take those grisly numbers above at face value. Moreover, there's a lot of luck -- good or bad (obviously bad, in Appel's case) baked into the ERA statistic, and Appel's strong K/BB ratio of 3.64 (Cal League average is 2.34 this season) suggests he's endured more than his share of misfortune in 2014.
With all that said, the jump from A-ball to Double-A is a challenging one -- low minors to high minors -- and Appel, nifty command numbers notwithstanding, is going to have to show better contact management skills if he's going to live up to the press clippings. Consider this an interesting example of aggressive promotion, and we'll see what comes of it.