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Daily Jolt, June 4: Former No. 1 pick getting lit up in minors

Wednesday, June 4
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Trouble signs for former No. 1 pick Appel

Even as the Astros enjoy the breakout major league debuts of top hitting prospects George Springer and Jon Singleton, another projected cornerstone of their roster overhaul has fallen upon hard times in the minors. Right-hander Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, was shelled for 10 runs on 10 hits in 1 1/3 innings in a recent start for Class-A Lancaster after running into a series of roadblocks earlier this season. Following that outing, which Baseball America noted was the worst by a top college draftee in the 21st century according to game score, Appel is now 3-2, 6.02 with a 1.47 WHIP in 52 pro innings. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned that the early struggles are a strong indicator he'll never reach the front-end starter projection placed on him prior to the 2012 and 2013 drafts. If the troubles were limited to poor stats, it could be explained in part by the difficulties of pitching in Lancaster. But pro scouts who saw Appel last year and this year have generally come away disappointed. (Baseball America) Comment

Rockets to chase third max deal

Unlike some other contenders, the Houston Rockets have chosen to assemble their "Big Three" piecemeal, signing Dwight Howard last summer and trading for James Harden the year before that. The team's plan for the next step in its star-hunting offseason strategy became a little clearer on Tuesday night. The Rockets plan to decline the fourth-year option on the contract of forward Chandler Parsons, freeing him to become a restricted free agent this summer, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Rockets hold a $960,000 option on the final year of Parsons' contract for the 2014-'15 season, but want to avoid letting him become an unrestricted free agent next summer. With Parsons as a restricted free agent in July, the Rockets can match an offer sheet and retain Parsons on a long-term contract. Houston is determined to clear the necessary salary cap space this summer to chase a third maximum contract free agent to join Howard and Harden, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. (Yahoo Sports) Comment

Cowboys open door for Brent after jail

Defensive tackle Josh Brent was last seen on the Cowboys' sideline in late 2012, when his presence sparked controversy in the aftermath of a drunk-driving accident in December 2012 that killed Jerry Brown, his best friend and teammate. Brent was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation last January, but if he is ever going to play in the NFL again, Dallas appears to be an option. Brent is scheduled to be released from jail before the Cowboys open training camp in Oxnard, Calif., on July 22. "The league will have a big say in when he can come back, but we'll certainly evaluate that situation when it comes," executive vice president Stephen Jones said at the Cowboys' annual sponsors' golf tournament. "I certainly wouldn't rule it out." (ESPN Dallas) Comment

Must-See Photo
Must-See Photo

Astros rookie Jon Singleton receives a Gatorade bath from teammate Dallas Keuchel after homering for his first major league hit in Houston's 7-2 win over the Angels on Tuesday night. (Bob Levey/AP)

Must-See Video

Meet the 23 players representing the United States at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, then head over to the new Planet Fútbol for the rest of SI's World Cup coverage.

This Day in Sports
SI Vault: More Randy Johnson
  • 1974 -- The NFL awards the city of Seattle a franchise, which began play two years later as the Seattle Seahawks.
  • 1976 -- The Boston Celtics need three overtimes to defeat the Phoenix Suns 128-126 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on the way to the franchise's 13th title.
  • 1981 -- The New York Rangers hold a press conference to officially announce the hiring of Herb Brooks as head coach, one year after Brooks led Team USA to gold at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.
  • 2009 -- San Francisco Giants pitcher Randy Johnson earns his 300th career win, becoming the 24th pitcher to reach the milestone and, at age 45, the second-oldest to accomplish the feat.
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