TROY, N.Y. – Mark Appel's first professional pitch was smacked by Lowell shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin for a leadoff triple in Appel's debut for the Tri-City ValleyCats Friday.
The No. 1 overall pick of this year's MLB draft continued to pitch poorly in the first, giving the ValleyCats a 3-0 deficit to recover from if they hoped to avoid a third straight loss.
Once Appel settled down, though, he began to show why he had been so highly sought after. He battled back with several assaulting fastballs and off-speed pitches, attacking the zone and causing Cleuluis Rondon to foul off three straight pitches. On the next pitch, Appel fired a fastball on the corner to catch Rondon looking, striking out his first professional batter.
The at-bat to end the first inning was a learning experience for Appel, who took only nine pitches to lay down the seventh, eighth and ninth hitters of the Lowell Spinners lineup.
By the second inning Appel had changed his approach. While still commanding the zone, Appel forced three quick ground-outs, keeping the ball down and causing quick outs.
Despite the shaky start, the Stanford righty said that he was still pleased with his overall introduction.
"It wasn't my best, but it wasn't my worst," Appel said. "I think it's a good starting point for the rest of the season. I was glad to get out there and get my feet wet, and get my work in, because that's what it's about right now."
Eight innings later, the ValleyCats faced a two-out extra inning with Thomas Lindauer on third. Luis Alvarez swung and missed on a 1-2 slider from Kyle Martin to put the Cats up 5-4 over the Spinners, giving them the win and their first lead of the game.