(AP) Astros draft Stanford pitcher Mark Appel at No. 1
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer
This time, the Houston Astros couldn’t resist drafting Mark Appel with the No. 1 pick.
Houston selected the hard-throwing Stanford pitcher with the top choice in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday night, a year after passing on the hometown kid and instead choosing 17-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico.
Appel, who grew up in Houston before moving to California when he was 12, slid to Pittsburgh at No. 8 last year but turned down a $3.8 million offer and returned to Stanford for his senior season. The move paid off.
After going 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 106 1-3 innings this season for the Cardinal, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Appel is expected to fetch about double the amount he passed up from the Pirates.
The deadline for teams to sign draft picks is July 12, but that doesn’t apply to Appel because he is a college senior.
The draft, which is held over three days and 40 rounds, started Thursday night with the first two rounds at MLB Network Studios. Nine prospects attended and sat in a makeshift dugout as they waited for their names to be called by Commissioner Bud Selig in an event that has grown dramatically over the last few years.
It was the second straight season that the first pick was uncertain going into the draft, with Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray and a pair of college third basemen _ North Carolina’s Colin Moran and San Diego’s Kris Bryant _ thought to be in the mix for Houston. It was the fourth time the Astros had the No. 1 pick, and they joined Tampa Bay (2007-08) and Washington (2009-10) as teams to have the top selection in consecutive years.
The draft order is determined by reverse finish _ worst to best _ in the overall standings from last season.
With the No. 2 pick, the Chicago Cubs selected Bryant, who led Division I college players with 31 home runs this season. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound junior is a Golden Spikes finalist and Collegiate Baseball magazine’s national player of year.
Gray went third overall to the Colorado Rockies. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound flamethrower helped pitched the Sooners into the super regionals of the NCAA tournament, going 10-2 with a 1.59 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 119 innings.
Colorado apparently was not scared off by published reports that cited unidentified sources who said Gray tested positive for the medication Adderall during baseball’s predraft drug testing program.
The first high school player picked was pitcher Kohl Stewart, who went to the Minnesota Twins at No. 4. A right-hander from Tomball, Texas, Stewart has signed to play baseball and football at Texas A&M _ where he would likely be a backup to Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel at quarterback.
The Cleveland Indians followed by grabbing Clint Frazier, a high school outfielder from Georgia who was in the studio to hear his name called by Selig.
Of the draft prospects in attendance, Frazier was the first to be selected. The second came when the New York Mets chose sweet-swinging California high school first baseman Dominic Smith at No. 11.
Five picks later, Philadelphia took Smith’s close buddy, California high school shortstop J.P. Crawford _ cousin of Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford _ who was also at MLB Network Studios. The two hugged, with Smith in a Mets jersey and Crawford wearing a rival Phillies jersey in a neat scene that also might have made some New York and Philadelphia fans squirm.
Crawford acknowledged that he could be the future replacement for All-Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran, the nephew of former big league All-Star B.J. Surhoff _ the No. 1 overall pick in 1985 by Milwaukee _ went sixth overall to the Miami Marlins. Moran was the ACC player of the year and led the offense for the NCAA tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.
Boston, picking as high as seventh for the first time since drafting Trot Nixon in the same spot in 1993, took Indiana high school lefty Trey Ball.
Stephen F. Austin slugging shortstop Hunter Dozier was the No. 8 overall pick by the Kansas City Royals, who surprised some by taking a player expected to go much later in the opening or second round.
Pittsburgh, with the No. 9 pick it got as compensation for not signing Appel last year, selected Georgia high school outfielder Austin Meadows. He grew up playing travel ball with Frazier, but the two went to different high schools a few miles apart in the same town of Loganville.
Rounding out the top 10 picks, Toronto chose hard-throwing California high school right-hander Phil Bickford.
A few familiar names went in the opening round: University of Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley, cousin of Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jordan Shipley, went 15th to Arizona; and North Carolina high school righty Hunter Harvey, son of former big league closer Bryan Harvey, was selected 22nd by Baltimore.
The New York Yankees had the most first-round picks with three and selected Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo at No. 26, 6-foot-7 Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge at No. 32 and California high school left-hander Ian Clarkin to wrap up the round at No. 33.
AP Sports Writers Pat Graham in Denver, Kristie Rieken in Houston and Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.