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Potential Red Sox Draftees: Stanford RHP Mark Appel, by Chris Benvie
2013 Draft Profile: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford, by Matt Garrioch
Astros begin laying groundwork for 2013 Draft, by Brian McTaggart
Born: July 15, 1991
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 210 pounds
2013 class: Senior
Previously drafted: 2009, 15th round, Tigers; 2012, first round (No. 8 overall), Pirates
Achievements: 2012 National College Pitcher of the Year, 2012 first team Collegiate Baseball All-America, 2012 first team NCBWA All-America, 2012 second team Baseball America All-America, 2012 second team Perfect Game All-America, 2012 first team All-Pac 12, 2012 Stanford Regional Most Outstanding Player, 2011 USA Baseball collegiate national team, 2011 No. 1 prospect on Team USA by Baseball America, 2011 No. 2 prospect on Team USA by Perfect Game, 2011 No. 2 prospect in CCBL by Perfect Gam, 2010 NECBL All-Star
What he brings: Appel has a four-seam fastball that he commands well and that reportedly has touched the high 90s while sitting comfortably around 94-96. He features what is widely described as a plus swing-and-miss changeup and a breaking ball — typically characterized as a slider, though some note that it more closely resembles a curveball at times — with above-average action.
Notes: On first appearance, Appel has the prototypical pitcher’s physique, possessing the look of an innings-eater. He is tall and strong through his core, allowing him to maintain balance and repeat his delivery. Some scouts have likened him to a Matt Cain.
Statistically, in 2012 Appel found his stride. For Stanford he owned a 10-2 record with a 2.56 ERA in 16 games. In 2011 his ERA in the same amount of starts was 3.02. In 2012 he threw 123 innings, a bump from his 104 1/3 innings workload in ’11.
That’s not the only area where he improved. He allowed 97 hits vs. 107 the year before and struck out 130 batters vs. 83 in 2011, with the increased swing-and-miss rate contributing to his status as the consensus top college pitching prospect in last June’s draft. His WHIP went from 1.278 in 2011 to 1.033 in 2012 with an impressive 0.79 H/9 ratio to boot; a significant drop from the 1.028 H/9 he posted in 2011.
However, the availability of Appel in the 2013 draft will come with a looming question mark: his signability. The Scott Boras client was viewed as a potential top pick in the 2012 draft; instead, he slipped to the Pirates at No. 8 because teams harbored concerns that he would seek an over-slot bonus — something that is more problematic than ever given the world of the new collective bargaining agreement, which establishes penalties for teams that exceed an MLB-defined “draft bonus pool” for picks in the first 10 rounds.
The Pirates had a recommended slot of $2.9 million for the No. 8 pick. They offered $3.8 million — a sum that would have required the team to pay a 75 percent tax on the $900,000 over slot, and the maximum that Pittsburgh could offer without forfeiting a future first-round pick. But Appel rejected the offer to return to school.
As a senior, his leverage diminishes. He no longer has the threat of going back to school to pursue a degree and a College World Series title with Stanford (his stated reasons for not signing).
Still, he’s a Boras client, and so the idea that he may try to max out or exceed his recommended slot will represent a concern for teams that would consider taking him. After all, under the new draft rules, teams with top-10 picks typically tried to sign their players for less than the slot recommendation so that they could reallocate their money to draft picks in subsequent rounds. Meanwhile, not only did Appel reject the $3.8 million of the Pirates, but he also reportedly told the Astros he wouldn’t sign (if taken with the No. 1 overall pick) for $6 million.
It’s difficult to imagine that Appel would forfeit the right to turn pro while holding out for money. The closest thing to a precedent is somewhat familiar to the Red Sox, however.
In 1993, Jason Varitek was taken in the first round out of Georgia Tech (No. 21 overall) by the Twins. He elected, however, to return to school for his senior season, after which the Mariners drafted him in the first round (No. 14 overall) in 1994. Rather than sign immediately, Varitek held out for almost a year, going so far as to agree to play for the independent league St. Paul Saints before coming to terms with the Mariners just before the 1995 draft — ending the longest holdout ever to yield a signing in the history of the draft at that time.
It remains to be seen whether Appel would go to the wire (he has less leverage than did Varitek), but certainly, any team that takes the right-hander will spend considerable time figuring out his interest in signing before taking him.
Appel is considered by most to be the best pitcher in this year’s class after having the same distinction last season. He was a basketball player in high school so his baseball polish lagged behind. He threw 88-94 but had horrible mechanics. His time at Stanford has allowed him to gain consistency to his big 6’6″ frame. He is currently 210 lbs+/- and could easily add 15-20 lbs more to add strength and durability. His command has come a long way, as has his consistency but he still needs work.
His fastball is a 93-96 mph pitch but can get up to 99. It didn’t have much movement in the times I have watched him pitch. It looked rather hittable. His changeup is advanced. It can be a plus pitch and make hitters lunge at it but it didn’t have a lot of movement in my viewings. It is a plus pitch that could get better with added movement. His slider is his best pitch. It has tight spin and looked very good on occasion. His command of it wasn’t advanced and he didn’t locate it well. I think all 3 of his pitches could play up with more innings and confidence in locating them to all 4 quadrants.
My concern with Appel is that he has the potential to be dominant but lacks…um..something. He tends to be around the plate. He leaves balls up in the zone and almost throws too many strikes. He suffers from “pitch to contact” syndrome; an affliction that many Minnesota Twins fans are aware of. If a team has a good defense behind him and he pitches with a little more killer instinct as well as develops more with instruction and better competition, he could be a frontline starter.
If he doesn’t gain those things and stays a similar pitcher, he may just be a #3 or 4 starter that you are always expecting more from. With that being said, he should go in the top 5 without any complications and is likely to be the #1 or #2 pick overall. I said basically this exact same thing last year. We will see how being a senior with no eligibility effects his draft stock and his signability.
HOUSTON — The Astros will have the No. 1 pick in the First-Year Player Draft for two years in a row for the first time in club history. And Stanford right-hander Mark Appel is again on their radar.
Appel, a Houston native, was among the players considered worthy of the top pick a year ago, but he slipped to eighth, where he was taken by the Pirates. He didn’t sign and returned to Stanford, where he will pitch his senior season next spring.
Astros scouting director Mike Elias said Appel is among four of five players the team is considering at No. 1, though that list that could change.
“I don’t have a clear No. 1 in my mind right now and I’d say nobody does,” Elias said. “I would say Mark Appel is absolutely back in the mix given what he did last year, the consideration he garnered last year and the serious consideration he had a the top of the Draft. He’s back in there, so that strengthens the pool.
“The rest of the pool is pretty diverse. You’ve got other college players and some high school position players. I don’t think there’s a high school pitcher yet that has made the case to put himself in that group, sort of like Lucas Giolito did last year right off the bat. So that’s probably the one piece that’s missing. Historically, that’s the one position that doesn’t get taken 1-1, so that’s not surprising.”
The top pick means extra work for Elias and the scouting staff. The Astros will spend a lot of time and resources making sure they get the No. 1 pick right. The area scouts might see a potential No. 1 pick as many as 10 times, while Elias will try to get four or five looks.
“What it means for us we have some big decisions we have a lot of pressure to get it right,” he said. “If we look at the history of it, there have been teams that have not seen the benefits of the No. 1 pick you might expect and still have gone on to have successful rebuilds and have come out a successful organization. It’s still a major opportunity you’re burning if you can’t get that pick right.”
Filed under: 2013 MLB Draft