(1/16/12): At 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, with a fastball that has approached 100 mph, Appel is a near-lock to be one of the first 2-3 picks in the 2012 draft—perhaps No. 1 if he can pitch this spring at Stanford like he did in his final outing last summer in the Cape Cod League. In a 4-0 win over Orleans in the opening round of the playoffs, Appel thoroughly dominated for eight innings, walking two, allowing five hits and striking out 10. His arm was electric with a fastball that was consistently at 97-98 mph, and two above-average secondary pitches in his slider and circle changeup. He mixed all three pitches effectively, and was able to work each to all parts of the strike zone efficiently with an extremely free and easy arm action. His poise and aggressive approach to pitching were also prominently on display. It was just Appel’s third start of the summer for Yarmouth-Dennis, but he pitched comparatively every time out for the Red Sox, though didn’t earn a win until his final outing. In 12 regular-season innings, he was 0-1, 2.25 with a walk and 15 strikeouts. Appel was late joining Y-D because he reported directly to USA Baseball’s college national team, and spent the bulk of his summer there. Though his 5.00 ERA was the highest on that squad and stemmed mostly from surrendering a grand slam in his only start, he was the most-dominant arm on that pitching staff, as well, with a fastball that was a steady 92-95 mph, but also touched 98 several times, and 99 once. Balls typically explode out of Appel’s hand and he has good life on his pitches in the strike zone, though had a tendency as a sophomore at Stanford and again during the summer with Team USA to leave them up and over the plate too often, and got hit more often than a pitcher with his impressive raw stuff should. In 110 innings for the Cardinal, he allowed 114 hits while walking 29, striking out 86 and going 6-7, 3.02. But if his command was an issue then, he may have gone a long way towards addressing it with his series of dominating performances on the Cape Appel should become more of a dominant pitcher as he refines his raw stuff, especially his changeup, but may never be a true strikeout artist as what already sets him apart as a pitching prospect and makes him so advanced for a hard thrower is he doesn’t purposely try to strike out every hitter. He would prefer to use any of his pitches in any count rather than simply blow a hitter away with his big fastball. One of three or even four potential first-rounders from Stanford in this year’s draft, Appel would have been drafted much higher than the 15th round in 2009 out of a Northern California high school had he not been considered a high signability risk because of his near-binding commitment to attend Stanford. He struggled for the Cardinal as a freshman (2-1, 5.92, 38 IP, 19 BB/26 SO), working mostly in relief, but his career took off as a starter that summer for Newport of the New England Collegiate League, when his fastball routinely reached 96-97 mph and he was selected that league’s top prospect. One summer later, Appel enhanced his status as the early favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft.