Appel among pitchers progressing in farm system

Appel among pitchers progressing in farm system

SEATTLE -- Several of the most promising arms in the Astros' system are making progress as they work their back into games. That list includes 2013 No. 1 pick Mark Appel, who's not injured but has been pitching at extended spring workouts for the past few weeks.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Appel, who started the season at Class A Lancaster, recently threw 60 pitches in a game and was averaging 95 mph on his fastball and touching 98. Luhnow said Appel will make one more start of five innings and 75 pitches before going back to Lancaster.

"We want to put him in a position to succeed, and I think Lancaster is a good spot for him," Luhnow said. "You could argue it's challenging for any pitcher to go to, but Double-A is a pretty tough place to go as well. I think he would be able to go to Lancaster and have success there and move on."

The Astros sent him to Florida to get into a better routine of pitching every five days after missing much of the spring following an appendectomy. He made four starts at Lancaster, allowing 17 hits and nine earned runs in 13 innings.

Meanwhile, right-hander Alex White began a rehab outing at Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. Making his first appearance coming back from Tommy John surgery, White retired the side in order in the eighth inning, using just nine pitches. Luhnow said he expects White to be in the Astros' bullpen soon.

"I still believe long term he's a starter for us, and next year he'll come to Spring Training preparing to be a starter, but for now, given that he is coming off the surgery and given that our need is primarily bullpen and our rotation has been solid, it's a good spot for him," he said.

Luhnow said White's fastball is between 90 and 92 mph, which means he's still a few ticks shy of where he was at prior to the surgery.

"We'll probably see that over the course of the summer," Luhnow said.

Veteran right-hander Jesse Crain (bursitis) threw in the bullpen Thursday in Florida and felt the best he's felt in a while, Luhnow said. If things continue to go well, he'll probably come to Houston next week and throw a simulated game.

Right-hander Asher Wojciechowski threw four innings in a rehab outing at Oklahoma City on Wednesday after dealing with a strained lat for more than three months.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.