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Potential Red Sox 2013 draft pick: Stanford RHP Mark Appel

09.18.12 at 4:14 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Red Sox when it comes to the 2013 MLB draft. For the first time since 1993, the Red Sox have a top-10 selection and will be drafting seventh. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Red Sox to make a selection.

MARK APPEL

Stanford RHP Mark Appel was the 2012 National College Pitcher of the Year. (Stanford University)

Position: RHP

School: Stanford

Born: July 15, 1991

Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 210 pounds

Bats/throws: R/R

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.

Links:

http://baseballnewshound.com/?p=2789

http://projectprospect.com/article/2012/03/11/mark-appel-scouting-report

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/printarticle/scouting-mark-appel-the-possible-first-pick-overall-in-2012/

http://www.coast2coastprospects.com/mark-appel.html

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8164488/mark-appel-spurns-pittsburgh-pirates-stay-stanford

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