Saturday's announcement of the Ken Giles trade was expected to be a formality. The four players the Phillies were to receive from Houston was widely reported. Instead, the announcement brought a surprise.
The Phillies received righthander Mark Appel instead of outfielder Derek Fisher. They also recieved five players instead of four. Houston drafted Appel with the first overall pick in the 2013 draft. The 24-year-old has struggled in the minor leagues, but a change of scenery could help the once promising pitcher. He was the 2012 National Pitcher of the Year at Stanford.
The Phillies also received righthanders Vincent Velasquez, Thomas Eshelman, and Harold Arauz, and lefthander Brett Oberholtzer. Along with Giles, the Phillies sent shortstop prospect Jonathan Arauz to Houston. The 17-year-old Arauz played last season in the Gulf Coast League.
Appel started last season in double A before being promoted in June to triple A. He made 12 starts at triple A, finishing with a 4.48 ERA. Appel struck out 110 batters last season and walked 51 in 131.2 innings between double A and triple A. He was a teammate of Aaron Nola and J.P. Crawford in last summer's MLB Futures Game as part of All-Star Weekend in Cincinnati. Appel was ranked before last season by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in the Astros system.
Velasquez, 23, will compete for a spot in the starting rotation. Houston drafted him in 2010's second round. Velasquez reached the majors last season. Eshelman, 21, was Houston's second-round pick last June and is known for his pinpoint control. The 26-year-old Oberholtzer, a native of Delaware, has a chance to be in the Phillies bullpen. Arauz, 20, pitched as both a starter and a reliever in short-season Class A.