The Houston Astros and Mark Appel, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft, have reportedly come to terms on a deal. The Astros and the Stanford right-hander have agreed on a bonus of $6.35 million, the most any player has received under baseball’s new draft bonus rules. The preview high was the $6 million the Minnesota Twins gave high school outfielder Byron Buxton after selecting him with the No. 2 pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.
Appel’s deal also blows past the previous high for a college senior, which was held by Matt LaPorta after the Milwaukee Brewers gave him $2 million back when he was the seventh overall pick of the 2007 draft.
The 21-year-old Appel was the consensus top player in the 2013 draft, and is also a Houston native, which means both sides had a lot of incentive to get a deal done. He will reportedly sign officially at some point this week.
After being selected with the No. 8 pick in the 2012 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Appel couldn’t come to terms on a signing bonus with the team, and returned to Stanford for his senior year. The Pirates reportedly offered him a $3.8 million deal, but his turned it down to head back to school.
As a senior Appel finished with a record of 10-4, a 2.12 ERA and he struck out 130 batters in 106.1 innings. He was the Pac-12’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year and graduated after the fall semester with a degree in management science and engineering. He also set the Cardinal career record for strikeouts with 372 in 377.2 innings. Appel’s pitching coach at Stanford was Rusty Filter, who happened to hold the same position at San Diego State when Stephen Strasburg was there.
Appel was projected to go No. 1 to the Astros in 2012, but the team was reportedly unwilling to pay him the $6 million he was asking for. Houston instead opted to selected Puerto Rican high school shortstop Carlos Correa and signed him for $4.8 million. Appel’s $6.35 million deal is actually $1,440,400 less than the assigned value ($7,790,400) for the top pick this year. That means the team has plenty of extra cash to distribute to other picks.
While comparisons for Appel have been all over the map, I see him as a lot like Mark Prior coming out of college. Both had outstanding mixes of stuff and control, while also having great frames for pitching. We all know Prior’s body never stood up to the rigors of pitching in the big leagues, but something tells me Appel will be just fine.
He stands at 6’5″ and 215 pounds with a clean delivery. His fastball sits in the mid-90s but can touch 98 and holds velocity late into games. His slider and changeup are both plus offerings and he can throw them for strikes in any count. Expect Appel to move quickly through Houston’s system and don’t be surprised if he gets a late-season call-up this year.