29. Houston Astros (29)

Mark Appel could pitch in the big leagues this year, but the Astros have little motivation to put him in the express lane. Assuming he signs at the July 12 deadline, he'll probably get a long break before making a limited number of minor league starts and a trip to Instructional League.

( Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports / June 3, 2011 )

Mark Appel could pitch in the big leagues this year, but the Astros have little motivation to put him in the express lane. Assuming he signs at the July 12 deadline, he'll probably get a long break before making a limited number of minor league starts and a trip to Instructional League.

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ABOUT THE BLOGGERS

Eduardo A. Encina left the Florida sun in 2012 to return home and cover the Orioles. A Jessup native and University of Maryland graduate, Encina previously covered another AL East team, the Tampa Bay Rays, for the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune.

Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 16 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 12 seasons, including the past eight with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Dean Jones Jr. is the sports content editor overseeing Orioles coverage. A Towson University graduate, he started working at The Baltimore Sun in 2007. He previously managed high school sports coverage and also covered the Orioles minor league teams.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for decades. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer.

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