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RIVER BANDITS

Newest Bandit Appel learning on the run

July 10, 2013 8:52 pm  • 

Excuse Mark Appel if he forgets a name or two as he settles in with the Quad-Cities River Bandits.

The past month has been a bit of a blur for the first overall pick in this year’s baseball draft.

“It’s been crazy," Appel said Wednesday after arriving in the Quad-Cities to begin the next assignment in his month-old career. "... I’ve met so many new people, been so many new places. I’m pretty much living out of a suitcase, learning what pro ball is about. I have learned to pack efficiently, though."

Since being selected by Houston last month, the 21-year-old right-handed pitcher from Stanford has been on the move.

He’s traveled to Houston to sign with the Astros and spent time at the organization’s spring training facility in Florida. He made his pro debut with two starts over the past week for short-season Tri-City in the New York-Penn League before being promoted to the Midwest League.

“I’m real excited to be here. Just like Tri-City, it’s all part of the process, a good, new experience," Appel said.

He has found it to be an adjustment from the college game, where his starts came once a week, to pro ball where the work is daily and he is part of a rotation that includes more frequent outings.

“It’s a different routine, but I anticipated that and I am learning every day," Appel said.

Performance will dictate when Appel takes the next step in his career, although both Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and Appel have talked about taking an additional step to AA Corpus Christi before the end of the current season.

“They have not given me any indication when that might happen or what it will take for that to happen," Appel said. “All I can do is compete to the best of my ability in each outing I have and see where it takes me."

The first chance for Appel to compete for Quad-Cities is Sunday, when he is scheduled to start in a 5 p.m. home game against Dayton.

“I’m excited about it, excited because it is part of the next step for me," he said.

Appel was greeted by a handful of fans seeking autographs when he arrived at Modern Woodmen Park on Wednesday afternoon, including a couple who had been sitting outside of the stadium since 9 a.m. in anticipation of his arrival.

Inside the ballpark, River Bandits manager Omar Lopez welcomed the newest addition to the clubhouse which now includes 11 players who were initially chosen in the top 10 rounds of the baseball draft, including four first-round selections.

“They are the future of the Houston organization, and I think it’s pretty cool that they are here together, getting to know each other and working together," Lopez said. “This will be their first stop as teammates and it is a good place to learn."

Wednesday, solo home runs by Quad-Cities newcomer Bobby Borcherding and Rio Ruiz were not enough as the River Bandits’ 10-game home winning streak ended with an 8-2 loss to Bowling Green.

The Hot Rods piled up 14 hits, including seven which led to four runs in four innings off of River Bandits starter Lance McCullers. The only extra-base hit allowed by the Quad-Cities right-hander was a leadoff homer in the fourth by Patrick Leonard, the first he has surrendered this season.