It’s not often you see a guy taken in the top-10 of the draft decide not to sign in favor of returning to college, but that’s what right hander Mark Appel did in 2012, spurning an offer from the pittsburgh Pirates to head back to Stanford. A brilliant senior season, where Appel went 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA followed and the Houston Astros used the top overall selection on his in last month’s draft.
Appel, considered to be one of the most polished pitching prospects of the past 20 or so years, signed quickly and for considerably less than the recommended slot value of the top overall pick. Not that $6.35 million is anything to sneeze at, but it’s nearly $1.5 million below what the commissioner’s office had assigned that slot. Appel had turned down $3.8 million as the eighth pick in last June’s draft by the Pirates.
Just two games into his pro career, Appel has already been re-assigned. The Astros have moved him from the short season New York/Penn League to Class-A Quad Cities of the MidWest League. Appel will be limited to four inning per start for the remainder of the season and expects to be able to throw about more professional innings this year. He tossed 106 innings in college this year.
While there had been some speculation that Appel might jump quickly to the big leagues, the Astros currently have no plans to push him past Double-A this season. Previous regimes might have been tempted by the desire for a late-season attendance boost that Appel’s debut surely could have provided, but GM Jeff Lunhow has his eye on the future and allowing the right hander to develop a bit in the minor leagues this season is the wise move to make.
If all goes well over the next few month, you can expect that Appel will be a favorite to break camp in Houston’s starting rotation next season.