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.