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Astros shut down Appel, two other prospects

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in June's First-Year Player Draft, made his final start of the season Sunday for Class A Quad Cities, which clinched a playoff berth in a 5-1 win. Appel allowed one run and four hits in five innings and won't pitch anymore this year.

The Astros are shutting Appel down after he threw 144 1/3 innings combined between Stanford and the time he spent with short-season Tri-City (five innings) and Quad Cities (33 innings). He went 3-1 with a 3.79 ERA in his pro debut.

"That's it for him in terms of games," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "He's going to remain with the team. They clinched a playoff berth last night in his last start, and it was a good thing for him to participate in that. He's not going to be pitching in games going forward."

Luhnow said the Astros have also shut down second-round pick Andrew Thurman and 2012 first-round pick Lance McCullers, both right-handers.

Thurman, drafted out of UC-Irvine, went 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 games (five starts) with Tri-City, striking out 43 batters in 39 2/3 innings.

"I didn't get a chance to see any of his starts, but they said the last two starts he was getting stronger and stronger and his velocity was getting into the mid-90s, and he was showing really exceptional fastball command," Luhnow said. "They were saying they can't wait to see what he shows up in Spring Training looking like. He made real good progress this summer."

McCullers, the 41st overall pick last year, went 6-5 with a 3.18 ERA and struck out 117 batters in 104 2/3 innings at Quad Cities, pitching all season at 19 years old.

"McCullers had an absolutely outstanding year," Luhnow said. "We couldn't have asked for anything more from him. He's really blossomed into an elite pitching prospect."

Brian McTaggart is reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
Read More: Houston Astros, Andrew Thurman, Mark Appel, Lance McCullers