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Top prospects shine as Astros close spring

Appel tosses three scoreless innings; Correa drives in go-ahead run

Special to

HOUSTON -- The Astros' final preseason game was more of a look at their distant future than their immediate plans. Touted prospects such as Carlos Correa, George Springer and Mark Appel roamed the Minute Maid Park turf as the regulars rested to get ready for Tuesday's opener.

Correa proved critical, driving in the go-ahead run in a five-run seventh inning as Houston bested the Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz (Veracruz Red Eagles), 6-1, on Sunday afternoon. The late damage prevented Appel and Pat Urckfitz's combined six innings of scoreless ball from being wasted.

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Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft and a Houston native, was making his first appearance in Minute Maid Park as a professional. The righty mostly dazzled in front of 15-20 family and friends, striking out three and allowing just two hits over three innings.

"I gave myself a minute to soak it in," Appel said. "It's my hometown organization and a real special feeling to play for them here."

Appel's command and strength were question marks after an appendectomy in January, but his velocity overwhelmed Veracruz hitters and helped him recover from hits to lead off the second and third innings.

"He had that power fastball, really sharp breaking ball," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "I think we were able to get enough work accomplished to get him where he's ready to go. Mark could have thrown a lot more innings if we wanted."

The Astros sported approximately half of the lineup that pounded out 13 runs against the Rangers in San Antonio on Saturday, but the Red Eagles of the Mexican League kept Houston at bay for the second day in a row.

Adron Chambers put the Astros on the board in the third inning with a sacrifice fly that scored Erik Castro. Urckwitz made that lead stand up, but reliever Bobby Doran ran into trouble during the seventh as Veracruz tied up the score on Alex Cabrera's RBI fielder's choice.

The game didn't stay in doubt for long, and it wasn't mainly the Astros' bats that broke it open. Four walks complemented a pair of hits, including a bases-clearing single from first baseman Japhet Amador, and Correa's RBI sacrifice fly to plate five runs in the seventh and seal a two-game sweep of the Red Eagles to wrap up Houston's Spring Training season.

Chris Abshire is a contributor to

Houston Astros, Mark Appel, Carlos Correa