Luscious Legs, Appel Takes the Hill, From Florist to First

The TinCaps won last night, 8-3, evening their three-game series with Quad Cities. Tonight’s game is a 7:05 first pitch with fireworks to follow.

Tonight is also 80’s Night, which will feature some rockin’ uniforms from the TinCaps. You’ll want to be here to see them.


In today’s podcast, John Nolan talks baseball with Walker Weickel, but more importantly, he asks Walker about his experience in the Luscious Legs competition. You’ve got to hear his answer:


Tonight’s pitching matchup has Fort Wayne’s Matt Shepherd, who was taken in the 31st round of the 2012 draft (there are 40 rounds total) against Mark Appel, who was selected first overall (to very little surprise) in last month’s draft. Appel is an interesting figure, as one of the rare Minor League Baseball players who finished his four-year degree in college. Not to mention, he did it at Stanford, where he studied Management Science and Engineering. Usually players who are drafted after their senior year, referred to as “senior signs”, have little leverage with the MLB teams they were selected by. Not the case for Appel:

Appel fell in the 2012 draft to the No.8 spot, where the Pittsburgh Pirates picked him, and opted toreturn to college, turning down $3.8 million. His gamble paid off as his Astros contract will well exceedthat amount; the slot value of the top pick is approximately $7.8 million.

The Astros also had the first overall pick in last year’s draft, and many thought they’d choose Appel.Instead, they went with Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa, but they got another chance at theHouston-born Appel on Thursday.

“We have a long history with Mark,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in an interview on MLBNetwork. “His pitches got better; his command got better. He proved to us that he’s a guy that’s not too faraway from being in Houston.”

Many experts believe the Astros decided between Appel and another pitcher, Oklahoma right-handerJonathan Gray.

This season for Stanford, Appel finished 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA. He threw four complete games andstruck out 130 batters in 106.1 innings. Opponents hit just .203 off him in his senior season.

He probably won’t throw more than four innings, as he did in his first start with Quad Cities, in which he allowed two hits, fanned three and walked one.

Our own John Nolan chatted with Appel (you can hear that conversation in full this evening on The Fan 1380 around 6:50), and first asked him what it’s been like since being drafted:

“It’s definitely been a whirlwind going from California to Houston to Florida, up to New York for short season and now here in Low-A. It’s been great. The people I’ve gotten to meet, the relationships I’ve made, I couldn’t ask for anything else than to get to come out here and play baseball.”

Many folks in the baseball community project Appel to be a quick riser through the Astros minor league system. John asked Appel why he thinks that is:

“Hopefully what they see is my competitive spirit. On the mound, that requires keeping the ball down in the zone, working with your fastball, and using your fastball to set up your off-speed pitches…I hope that scouts see someone who can rise through the minors pretty quickly.”

FROM FLORIST TO FIRST ON THE LIST’s Benjamin Hill has a good piece on the president of the Midwest League, George Spelius, who presides over the league out of his office in Beloit, Wisconsin:

Spelius runs the Midwest League out of an unmarked office in a non-descript, one-story building shoehorned in between two insurance offices and directly across the street from Beloit Floral. He and Nancy, his wife of 50 years, own and operate this long-running flower shop along with their daughter, Mary. The business was established in 1916 by Nancy’s father, Thomas Panos, a Greek immigrant who got it up and running at an approximate cost of $500.

So how did this small town florist come to preside over one of the most vibrant leagues in Minor League Baseball? It’s kind of a long story, as such stories tend to be, but it all comes back to a love of the game, as these stories tend to do.

This is worth reading to give you a little bit of background on the league. Spelius joined me and Kent Hormann on the air earlier this year, and having been in his position since 1987, he had lots of good stories to tell.


Wallpaper…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.


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