HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros have selected right-handed pitcher Mark Appel with the first pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced tonight.
Appel, 21, went 10-4 with four complete games and a 2.12 ERA (25ER/106.1IP) as a senior this season at Stanford University. He recorded 130 strikeouts in his 106.1 innings pitched and allowed just a .203 opponent's batting average. Appel is one of just 10 semifinalists for the National Pitcher of the Year Award as named by the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Appel's been highly decorated in his four seasons at Stanford, having already won the Pitcher of the Year award in 2012. He is also a two-time Louisville Slugger first team All-American and is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Howser Trophy. Last week, he was named first team All-Pac-12 Conference. Appel is also a Senior CLASS Award finalist and was named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week twice this season.
Appel finished his Stanford career as the program's all-time strikeout leader and his 372 career strikeouts rank second among active NCAA hurlers. The Pac-12 Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year this season is sixth in program history with 28 career wins and fourth with 377.2 innings pitched.
"We're absolutely thrilled that this came to a conclusion today and that we selected Mark Appel with the first selection in the draft," said Luhnow. "We believe he is a premium talent and we see him as a future potential ace. He's exactly the type of player that we need to be adding to the organization. He makes us significantly better and we believe this is a special player that is going to be a part of our championship team someday."
Appel becomes the third right-handed pitcher selected first overall in the draft in the last five years, joining Gerrit Cole (2011-PIT) and Stephen Strasburg (2009-WSH). He is also the third right-handed pitcher taken by Houston in the first round in the last five years, a list that also includes Lance McCullers (2012-supplemental) and Mike Foltynewicz (2010).
ABOUT THE FIRST PICK
Position: Right-handed pitcher
High School: Monte Vista HS (CA)
This year marks the fourth time that the Astros have had the first overall pick in the MLB Draft. The previous three times were in 2013 (SS Carlos Correa), 1992 (IF Phil Nevin) and 1976 (LHP Floyd Bannister). Houston has had the second overall pick once in their history, which came in 1969 (RHP J.R. Richard).
The Astros will make another selection tonight at pick number 40, which is the first pick in the second round (approx. 9:10 pm CT).
Tonight's portion of the draft included only the first and second rounds out of a scheduled 40, and will resume tomorrow beginning at 12 p.m. CT. Rounds 3-10 are scheduled for tomorrow and the draft will conclude with the final 30 rounds on Saturday, June 8.
ASTROS DRAFTS BY POSITION: Through 2012, the Astros have selected with their first pick: 19 pitchers, 13 infielders, eight catchers and eight outfielders.
LUHNOW AND THE DRAFT: This year will be the Astros second draft under General Manager Jeff Luhnow's watch. Prior to being named the Astros General Manager, Luhnow had success overseeing several drafts while with the St. Louis Cardinals. Luhnow, who last served as the Cardinals vice president of scouting and player development, produced 24 Major League players in his first three drafts (2005-07), which were more than any other club in that time frame. In 2013, Luhnow had more drafted players on Opening Day rosters than any other head of amateur scouting in MLB. From 2006-10, the Cardinals organization won five minor league championships and had the best combined system record in baseball in 2010. In 2011, the Cardinals were named Organization of the Year by Baseball America. In 2012, the Astros had the top combined minor league record domestically in all of baseball (were last in 2010-11) and are also #1 thus far in 2013.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Although this will be Mike Elias' first draft as the Astros amateur scouting director, he played a significant role in last year's Astros draft while serving as a special assistant to the general manager, and was also involved in the draft while working under Jeff Luhnow while in the Cardinals organization (beginning in 2007). Elias, 30, is a graduate of Yale University, where he earned four letters as a left-handed pitcher on the baseball team.
ASTROS FIRST ROUNDER UPDATE: The Astros 2012 first-round pick SS Carlos Correa is hitting .282 at Class A Quad Cities with a club-best 33 RBI. At just 18 years of age, he is considered the Astros #1 or #2 prospect by most media outlets. Corpus Christi OF George Springer, a 2011 first-round pick, has been one of the top players in minor league baseball this season, leading all of the minors in HR with 17. He also leads the Texas League in RBI (47) and OPS (1.057) while hitting .310 with a club-best 17 steals. First-rounder 2B Delino DeShields (2010) is hitting .282 at Class A Lancaster with 14 SB. DeShields was the Astros 2012 Minor League Player of the Year after setting an organization record with 101 SB and was one of eight position players named to the 2012 Baseball America Minor League All-Star team. First-rounder Jiovanni Mier (2009), 22, is the everyday shortstop at Corpus Christi and leads Texas League shortstops in fielding pct. (.974) and double plays (35). First-rounder Jason Castro (2008) has been one of the top catchers in the American League in 2013, currently ranking first among backstops in doubles (15), second in HR (7) and third in batting avg. (.288). Last week, Castro became the first Astros catcher to be named Player of the Week since Craig Biggio in 1990.