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Minor League Ball Gameday, June 17

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Mark Appel
Mark Appel
USA Today Sports

Good afternoon prospect watchers. I hope you all had a good Father's Day weekend. Let's get down to business.

***I finally got my Integrating Baseball Knowledge post up this morning. Not many comments yet and I'm sorry if it seems to dry, but I've been working with those ideas for many months and it was finally time to get something down.

***Did you read Lee Warren's piece on the Negro Leagues Exhibit at the College World Series? You should.

***So Mark Appel and the Houston Astros have apparently come to an agreement. Assuming no last-second hitches, what would be your plans for Appel if you were the Astros? Where should he make his pro debut? High-A for a quick tuneup? Double-A immediately? How many innings would you expect from him this summer?

***The Texas Rangers signed a new prospect today, left-handed pitcher Francisco Cespedes from the Dominican Republic. He earned a $750,000 bonus. A 6-4, 195 pound lefty, he's a bit older than most Dominican signees at age 18, but I don't think that's a big deal; he's still plenty young. Perspective: a $750,000 bonus would slot at the top of the third round in MLB 2013 draft slot values. Ben Badler at Baseball America notes that teams are increasingly willing to invest money in "older" players from the Dominican, especially pitchers.

***Yesterday's Minor League Ball Gameday thread.

***Zack Wheeler of the New York Mets will be Prospect of the Day tomorrow. Someone asked for a retrospective on Corey Kluber so I'll put that on the list for later this week.

***Tampa Bay Rays prospect Taylor Guerrieri threw five shutout innings for Low-A Bowling Green yesterday, giving him a 2.50 ERA in 11 starts with a 43/10 K/BB in 54 innings, with 43 hits allowed and a 3.07 GO/AO. I always associate Guerrieri with Cincinnati Reds prospect Robert Stephenson, since both were hard-throwing high school right-handers drafted in 2011. Stephenson was just placed on the disabled list with Low-A Dayton due to a hamstring injury. Before getting hurt, he had a 2.97 ERA with an 85/17 K/BB in 67 innings with 52 hits allowed. They are both pitching well this spring and early summer, with Stephenson picking up more strikeouts and Guerrieri generating more ground balls.

***Milwaukee Brewers outfield prospect Tyrone Taylor is hitting .500 in his last 10 games for Low-A Wisconsin, giving him an overall line of .297/.355/.435 with 14 steals in 239 at-bats. A second-round pick last June from high school in California, Taylor is outplaying '12 first-rounder Victor Roache by a wide margin. The Georgia Southern power prospect is hitting just .209/.303/.341 in 50 games for the Timber Rattlers, struggling with contact (58 strikeouts in 182 at-bats).

***Chicago Cubs prospect Duane Underwood takes the mound tonight for short-season Boise in Northwest League action against Salem-Keizer. Underwood was a second-round pick in 2012 from high school in Marietta, Georgia, though the Cubs had to spend first-round money ($1.05 million) to sign him away from the University of Georgia. In high school he sometimes hit 98 MPH and showed a terrific curveball; other times he was down at 87-88 and had nothing going with the secondaries. Which Underwood will show up tonight?

***Today's slate of minor league baseball contests.

***The staff looks at their favorite baseball books. What are your favorites?

***Can you crack the Luhnow Code?