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On the Farm: Appel, Ballew, Borchering
03/11/2014 12:33 PM ET

Leading up to the 2014 season, cchooks.com spotlights select farmhands in the Astros system. Today, we feature RHPs Mark Appel and Travis Ballew and IF Bobby Borchering.

Mark Appel
Pitcher
BORN July 15, 1991 in Houston, TX
OPENING DAY AGE 22
HEIGHT 6'5
WEIGHT 215
BATS Right
THROWS Right
RESIDES Houston, TX
SCHOOL Stanford
ACQUIRED Selected in the first round (1st overall pick) of the June 2013 draft

Career Highlights: 2014 - Featured prominently on MLB.com's listings of 2014 prospects: No. 25 overall, No. 6 among right-handed pitchers and No. 4 in the Houston ranks. Rated by Baseball America as possessing the best slider in the Astros system.

2013 - Opened tenure with Tri-City and made pro debut on July 5 against Lowell. Started opposite Aberdeen five days later and tossed three shutout innings. Fanned five and did not walk a batter. Debuted with Quad Cities on July 14 and held Dayton to two hits over four scoreless frames. Surrendered one earned run or less in six of his eight outings as a River Bandit. Final appearance of the season came on August 25 at Burlington. Permitted one run in five innings as Quad Cities won 5-1 to clinch a playoff berth.

Career Notes: His $6.35 million signing bonus is the largest in Astros history. One of only 17 players to go in the first round of two June drafts. Selected by Detroit in the 15th round of the 2009 draft out of Monte Vista High School in Danville, CA. Plucked by Pittsburgh in the first round (8th overall) in 2012.

College Notes: Went 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA and four complete games as a senior at Stanford. Struck out 130 batters in 106.1 innings pitched and featured a .203 opponent's batting average. Named first team All-Pac-12 Conference. During the season, was tabbed Louisville Slugger Player of the Week and Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week on two occasions. Was one of 10 semifinalists for the National Pitcher of the Year award as selected by the College Baseball Hall of Fame…claimed the honor in 2012. A two-time Louisville Slugger first team All-American, finished his Cardinal career as the program's all-time strikeout leader. His 372 career strikeouts rank second among active NCAA hurlers. The 2013 Pac-12 Baseball Scholar Athlete of the Year is sixth in Stanford history with 28 career victories. His 377.2 innings pitched place fourth.

 
YEAR CLUB W-L ERA G GS CG SO SV IP H R ER BB K
2013 Tri-City (A) 0-0 3.60 2 2 0 0 0 5.0 6 2 2 0 6
  Quad Cities (A) 3-1 3.82 8 8 0 0 0 33.0 30 16 14 9 27
  Career Totals 3-1 3.79 10 10 0 0 0 38.0 36 18 16 9 33

Travis Ballew
Pitcher
BORN May 1, 1991 in Rockwall, TX
OPENING DAY AGE 22
HEIGHT 6'0
WEIGHT 160
BATS Right
THROWS Right
RESIDES Rockwall, TX
SCHOOL Texas State - San Marcos
ACQUIRED Selected in the 23rd round of the June 2012 draft  

Career Highlights: 2013 - His 21 saves led Astros farmhands and ranked second in the California League. Also slotted second in the circuit in games finished (41). Paced Lancaster in appearances and had the top strikeout total among JetHawks relievers. Struck out all six batters faced on April 16 at High Desert. Was 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA over 23 first-half outings, limiting the opposition to a .213 batting average. During this stretch, recorded 10 saves in 11 chances and fanned 43 batters against six walks in 24.2 innings. Following the break, his ERA jumped to 6.04 over 27 appearances. Roughest outing came on July 15 against Modesto when he allowed six runs while recording one out. Tossing out that performance, his second-half ERA dropped to 4.18. Ten of his final 13 outings were of the scoreless variety. Right-handers featured a .237 batting average (139 AB) while lefties hit at a .268 clip (71 AB). Righties accounted for five of the six home runs against him.

2012 - His six holds finished fifth in the New York-Penn League. Held the opposition to a .174 batting average, second-best among league relievers. Tied for second on Tri-City in appearances. Averaged 10.15 strikeouts per nine innings - the best ratio on the club. Permitted just one earned run thru his first 10 appearances (20.1 IP). Yielded one earned run or less in all but two of his outings. The league was 3-for-40 (.075) against him with runners in scoring position.

Career Notes: Is averaging 3.13 strikeouts for every walk. Owns a career 11.9 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio.

College Notes: Tabbed Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year and won All-America honors in 2012. Finished the campaign with an 11-4 record and 2.73 ERA. Struck out a team-high 119 batters 102.1 innings, holding the opposition to a .239 batting average. The junior right-hander tossed four complete games, including two shutouts.

 
YEAR CLUB W-L ERA G GS CG SO SV IP H R ER BB K
2012 Tri-City (A) 5-1 1.62 23 0 0 0 3 39.0 23 9 7 17 44
2013 Lancaster (A) 4-5 4.42 50 0 0 0 21 53.0 52 33 26 22 78
  Career Totals 9-6 3.23 73 0 0 0 24 92.0 75 42 33 39 122

Bobby Borchering
Infielder
BORN October 25, 1990 in Fort Myers, FL
OPENING DAY AGE 23
HEIGHT 6'2
WEIGHT 205
BATS Switch
THROWS Right
RESIDES Fort Myers, FL
ACQUIRED Via trade from Arizona, with OF Marc Krauss, in exchange for IF Chris Johnson in July 2012

Career Highlights: 2013 - Limited to 65 games between Greeneville and Quad Cities. Posted a composite .217 batting average with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 26 RBIs. Spent the first half at Houston's training complex in Kissimmee, Fla. Joined Greeneville on June 20. Hit safely in nine of his final 10 games with the Astros, batting .364 with four doubles, two home runs and four RBIs. Struck out six times against five walks during this stretch. Debuted at Quad Cities on July 10 against Bowling Green and went 1-for-3 with a solo home run. Most productive night was August 15 at Clinton when he drove in four runs - with two coming on a two-out, first-inning blast. Struggled to make contact during tenure as a River Bandit, logging 10 multi-hit games against 18 multi-strikeout contests. For the season, played primarily at first base, sans for three games in left field with Greeneville.

2012 - Played in the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox and hit .158 with two home runs and five RBIs in 11 games. Spent the last 30 games of the season in Corpus Christi after July 29 trade from Arizona and hit .189 with four home runs and 18 RBIs. In his first six games with the Hooks, hit .400 (8-for-20) with three home runs and 10 RBIs. In the following 24 games, hit .133 (10-for-75) with one HR and 8 RBIs. Had multiple strikeouts in a game 11 times after trade. Played 23 games at third base in the Astros' system after being used exclusively in the outfield in the Diamondbacks' organization. In Arizona system, started the season at Advanced-A Visalia before he earned a promotion to Double-A Mobile July 2. For the Rawhide, hit .277-18-60 and was named the Diamondbacks' Minor League co-Player of the Month for June after he hit .323 (31-for-96) with 11 HRs and 25 RBIs. Had a 19-game home hitting streak that started on May 22 and lasted until his July promotion. In that time he hit .360 (27-for-75) with 6 HRs and 18 RBIs. Entering the 2012 season, Baseball America rated him as best power bat in D'backs system.

2011 - Led the Rawhide in home runs (24) and RBIs (92). Ranked among league leaders in games (135, T2nd), home runs (24, T3rd) and strikeouts (162, 2nd). Drove in six runs May 23 vs. High Desert, going 4-for-5 with three doubles, a triple and two runs scored. In May, hit .319 (38-for-119) with five HRs and 26 RBIs. Played 68 games at first base and 57 games at third base.

2010 - Ranked among Midwest League leaders in games (135, T2nd) and at-bats (523, T3rd). Named ML Player of the Week April 26-May 3 after he hit .400 (10-for-25) with three HRs and five RBIs. Recorded a hit in 16 of 18 games from May 22-June 10, hitting .310 (22-for-71) with four HRs, 15 RBIs and 15 runs scored. Posted a 14 game hitting streak from July 5-19, going 20-for-61 (.328) with nine driven in. From August 1-5, went 14-for-23 (.607) with nine RBIs. Over the season's final 36 games he hit .355 (43-for-121) with six HRs and 24 RBIs. Was better at home (.299) than he was on the road (.243). Played in 84 games at third base, with 51 starts at designated hitter.

2009 - Played first game for Arizona's Pioneer League affiliate, Missoula, on August 19 and went 1-for-4 with a run. Hit in nine consecutive road games from August 19-September 1, batting .324 (11-for-34) with five doubles, a homer and seven RBIs. Played 20 games at third base and two as DH.

Career Notes:  With 552 strikeouts in 489 career games, Borchering averages 158 Ks over 140 games and 183 over 162 games. Originally selected by the Diamondbacks in the first round (16th overall) of the 2009 draft. Went to the same high school (Bishop Verot) as Chris Johnson, the player he was traded to the Astros for in July 2012.

 
YEAR CLUB AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB
2009 Missoula (R) .241 22 87 10 21 8 1 2 11 5 27 0
2010 South Bend (A) .270 135 523 74 141 31 2 15 74 54 128 1
2011 Visalia (A) .267 135 531 80 142 29 3 24 92 49 162 4
2012 Visalia (A) .277 81 307 47 85 23 1 18 60 28 96 0
  Mobile (AA) .130 21 77 4 10 0 0 2 8 3 27 0
  Corpus Christi (AA) .189 30 95 11 18 5 1 4 18 10 36 1
2013 Greeneville (R) .259 17 58 7 15 4 0 2 4 10 15 0
  Quad Cities (A) .203 48 172 17 35 7 1 5 22 21 61 1
  Career Totals .252 489 1850 250 467 107 9 72 289 180 552 7

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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