"I was very excited, obviously," Sappington said. "That was a goal of mine. A goal of mine to start the year -- I wrote it down -- was to start the season in High-A and I wanted to finish it in Double-A. It was something that was very exciting for me and also something that I was working toward every single day."
A 6-foot-5 frame helps the 22-year old generate downward motion on a mid-90's fastball, but Sappington feels the adjustments from collegiate to professional baseball are more mental than physical.
"It's been a fun journey, a learning experience and a life experience," Sappington said of his first full year in professional baseball. "You go from managing a school schedule and academic workload with baseball to baseball being the only thing that you do.
"You have more freedom here, so are you going to choose to be lazy and not work out? Or are you going to make time for the things that are most important and make them a priority so you are ready for your next start? If you want it bad enough, your actions speak louder than words. You have to go out and do it."
And so far, Sappington is.
The right-hander went 11-4 with a 3.38 ERA for Inland Empire, and entering Monday, he was 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five starts for Arkansas.
Sappington is pleased with the progress he has made this season, but he knows there is room to improve as he continues his journey to the Major Leagues.
"I'm really focused on not being mechanical, just being athletic," Sappington said. "That's probably one of my biggest strengths, my athleticism. So I'm trying not to work against myself and allow my body to just do what it does."
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.