Last year, the Astros decided they weren’t interested in meeting Mark Appel’s bonus demands and selected Carlos Correa first overall. Given a do over after finishing with the worst record in baseball once again, the Astros selected Appel, a right-hander from Stanford, first overall in Thursday’s draft.
Appel ended up going eighth overall to the Pirates last year and went back to Stanford for his Senior season after Pittsburgh failed to sign him. It was a risky move, but it worked out as well as could be hoped, as Appel stayed healthy and went 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA and a 130/23 K/BB ratio in 106 1/3 innings.
The Astros will have leverage in dealing with Appel, given that he can’t go back to school this time. His slot value is $7.79 million, but the Astros could get him for a bit less, giving them more flexibility with later picks. It’s hard to imagine Appel could risk going back into next year’s draft, which is considered significantly stronger than this one. It’s highly unlikely that he’d go first again.
Appel throws in the mid-90s and possesses both a slider and a changeup. He’s certainly not a slamdunk No. 1 pick like Stephen Strasburg before him, but the stuff is there to make him at least a No. 3 starter and potentially something more if his slider or changeup improves. He should be ready to contribute at some point during 2014.
Picks 2-5: Cubs follow with power-hitting third baseman Kris Bryant
Picks 6-10: Marlins take 3B Moran, Red Sox add LHP Ball
Picks 11-20: Mets draft a first baseman, Mariners look to third base
Picks 21-33: Yankees add bats, left-hander with three first-round picks
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.