Mark Appel was long considered the top college arm in the 2012 MLB Draft, but the way things are looking he might end up being the top college arm in the 2013 draft as well.
On draft night the Stanford right-hander dropped like a rock, after most observers expected the Houston Astros to select him with the No. 1 overall pick. Instead he fell to No. 8, where the Pittsburgh Pirates snapped him up.
But with the baseball’s new slotting system in place, the eighth selection holds a value of $3.8 million, and if the Pirates were to go significantly over that it could cost them serious penalties, which could include next year’s first-round pick. The deadline for Appel and the Pirates to come to an agreement looms on Friday and it doesn’t look like a deal is going to happen.
Appel reportedly wants to be paid like the best arm in the draft, and concerns over his bonus demands are the reason why he fell so far on draft night. There is no doubting his ability, but by turning down Pittsburgh’s current offer (reported to be right at the $3.8 million limit) he would be taking a huge risk. Returning to college doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk he’ll be the top pitcher available next year.
Appel was a second-team All-America selection this year after going 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA for the Cardinal. He also led the Pac-12 with 130 strikeouts in 123 innings. He has a power arm, and sits in the 94 to 97 mph range with his fastball, but can touch 99. In addition to that he has a plus changeup, and an above-average breaking pitch that is a combination of a curve and a slider.
He has the upside of a dominant No. 1 starter and at 6’5″ and 215 pounds, he has the build to be a workhorse.
If Appel elects to return to Stanford the Pirates will receive the No. 9 pick in next year’s draft as compensation.