Picking Appel(s)

Consider for a second if Andrew Luck fell in the draft to the Miami Dolphins at the 8th pick. A player with pro caliber skills and huge upside dropping from the projected 1st pick in the draft, plummeting out of the top 5, and falling into the lap of the Dolphins. Well that obviously did not happen. Andrew Luck went 1st overall to the Colts and all was right in the sporting world. However, the same cannot be said for fellow Stanford Junior, Mark Appel. Although not a once in a generation prospect, like Luck was dubbed, the Cardinal ace was projected to be the number 1 pick throughout the season and go to his hometown Astros.

In his junior year, Appel went 10-1 with a 2.27 ERA and fanned 127 in 119 innings. He only allowed 26 walks and opposing hitters posted an abysmal .210 against him this season. Stanford is headed to the Super Regional’s in this year’s College World Series spearheaded by Appel’s strong right arm.

The stars were aligning for the stud RHP heading into tonight’s MLB draft; he was going 1st overall and heading to his hometown of Houston to play for the Astros. However, all this changed when commissioner Bud Selig announced that the Astros had selected SS Carlos Correa with the first pick of the draft. From there on pick after pick rolled by yet Appel’s name remained at the top of the board for undrafted prospects. Finally, with the 8th pick in the draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Mark Appel and added depth to a team already loaded with pitching prospects. Both Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole already rank in the Top 10 of the Top 100 prospects and each are having an All-Star season in High-A ball in the Florida State League. The addition of Mark Appel just bolsters this future pitching staff and gives the Pirates a very real chance at the best rotation in baseball in the near future.

Who is Mark Appel?

The early favorite for the number one pick in the 2012 MLB Draft?  Yes.  The staff ace of a top-five Stanford Cardinal team with title hopes?  Yes.  A devout Christian?  Yes.  A 6′ 6″ twenty-year old with a cannon for a right arm?  Yes.  If you are a casual baseball fan than you probably haven’t heard much about Mark Appel, yet. This draft class does not have the same hype as the Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg years, but don’t count out the talent of Appel, whose skills haven’t even peaked yet. I think that he has the highest ceiling of any pitcher taken in the last few years.

Mark was born in July, 1991 in Houston, Texas but later moved to California. He attended Monte Vista High School where he played baseball, and as a senior was drafted in the 15th round by the Detroit Tigers. However, Appel decided to accept a scholarship to attend Stanford and is currently majoring in Management and Science & Engineering. As a freshman, while working mostly out of the bullpen  Appel struggled. Over the course of 38.0 IP, Mark posted a 2-1 record with a 5.92 ERA, and a 26 SO/19 BB ratio.  Opponents batted .295 against him.

Everything seemed to change after that freshman year, as Appel clearly developed better control. As a sophomore, Mark went 6-7 in 110.1 IP, working as the Cardinal’s Friday night starter. He worked is ERA down to 3.02, with a 86 SO/29 BB ratio and opponent batting average of .277. These are good, but not fantastic stats. However his stuff, and performance in the famous Cape Cod League had led to Appel’s status as top RHP on the draft board.

Mark Appel will be taken in the first round of the MLB Draft, on June 4th. My guess is that he will be an Astro. Expectations are high, and he has a great supporting staff at Stanford. I will be adding a Mark Appel Tracker page to this blog to keep track of his starts and stats. I also reached out to Mark with a few quick questions and I will post his responses very soon. He is also fairly active on Twitter if you want to follow him: @mappel26. Check out this page for Bro Scout’s full scouting report on this future ace.