Astros, No. 1 Pick Appel Agree On $6.35 Million

The Astros still are finalizing details with No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, but two sources have told Baseball America that the sides have agreed on his bonus. Appel, a Stanford righthander, will receive $6.35 million and is expected to sign the deal early next week.

Appel’s bonus is more than any player has received under the new draft rules that came into play last year, when No. 2 overall choice Byron Buxton got the top bonus at $6 million from the Twins. Appel also destroyed the record for the largest bonus ever given to a college senior. Matt LaPorta set the previous standard when he got $2 million from the Brewers as the No. 7 overall selection in 2007.

Mark Appel

Mark Appel (Photo by Larry Goren)

Appel received $2.55 million more than the Pirates offered him when they drafted him eighth overall a year ago. Had Pittsburgh signed him for more than $3.8 million, it would have forfeited at least one future first-round choice.

Appel had been projected to go No. 1 overall to Houston in 2012, with the club reportedly willing to pay him $6 million. But after the Astros couldn’t pin down what it would take to sign Appel, they ultimately chose Puerto Rican high school shortstop Carlos Correa and signed him for $4.8 million.

From Houston’s perspective, Appel’s bonus is $1,440,400 less than the assigned $7,790,400 value for the top pick. That gives the Astros plenty of extra cash to distribute to other draft choices, with potential overpay targets including Virginia high school lefthander Austin Nicely (10th round) and Nevada prep righty Devonte German (11th round).

Appel went 10-4, 2.12 for Stanford this spring, striking out 130 in 106 1/3 innings. He set the Cardinal career record for strikeouts (372 in 377 2/3 innings), earned Pacific-12 Conference baseball scholar-athlete of the year honors and completed his degree in management science and engineering.

Here’s our Appel scouting report from the BA 500, where we rated him as the draft’s No. 2 prospect:

Appel picked up where he left off last year, after he turned down $3.8 million from the Pirates as the eighth overall pick. As a senior, he fine-tuned his stuff and graduated with a degree in management science and engineering. He shows everything scouts look for in a frontline pitcher. He’s 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds with a clean delivery, and he is a solid athlete who played basketball in high school. Appel’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and gets as high as 98 mph, and he holds his velocity deep into games. His slider is a plus pitch that generates swings and misses with its sharp, late break. Under Stanford pitching coach Rusty Filter–who was Stephen Strasburg’s pitching coach at San Diego State–Appel has gotten a little more downhill with his fastball and has improved his changeup as a senior, and it should be at least an average third offering. Appel has improved every year at Stanford and dominated as a senior, and he should move quickly through the minor leagues.