Mark Appel tops Baseball America’s rankings for 2013 draft

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Now, admittedly August of 2012 is ridiculously early to be thinking about the June of 2013 draft, but Baseball America just released their top-50 rankings and Stanford right-hander Mark Appel holds the top spot after declining to sign with the Pirates as the No. 8 pick this year.

Pittsburgh will get the No. 9 pick next year as compensation for being unable to sign Appel, who turned down the $3.8 million maximum amount the Pirates could offer without losing a draft pick and will now return to college for his senior season.

If he ends up being the No. 1 pick next year Appel will likely make significantly more than $3.8 million, but then again the Astros figure to have the No. 1 pick in 2013 and they passed on him with the top pick this year. Appel (and agent Scott Boras) will also have much less leverage this time around, as returning to Stanford will no longer be an option, and of course he must avoid an injury.

Generally speaking Baseball America pegs the 2013 draft class as not particularly strong, much like the 2012 version, and in addition to Appel college pitchers hold the No. 2 (Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek) and No. 3 spots (Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea) in their rankings.

Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord

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John Wisely of the Detroit Free Press reports that current free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord for damage to the rented property as well as missing artwork. The landlord is asking for $80,000 after having kept Rodriguez’s $15,000 security deposit.

The lawsuit says that Rodriguez damaged a bedroom TV, a crystal floor lamp, glass shelves in the bar, glass tiles in the master bath, and a Moroccan mirror in the powder room. Additionally, the suit claims that the bedding is stained and paint has chipped, as well as other damages. And the piece of art that is allegedly missing, which depicts a tiger, is valued at more than $10,000.

Rodriguez has not yet been served with the suit, but the landlord has been speaking to his managers.

The Nationals released Rodriguez, 35, two weeks ago after having signed him to a minor league contract in late June. He started the season with the Tigers, but struggled to a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 innings before being released.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.