Well that didn’t take too long. The Houston Astros officially confirm the signing first overall draft pick Mark Appel. The Astros did not publicize the terms of the but Jim Callis of Baseball America believes the terms are in place and — dundundunnnnnn — below slot.

Getting Appel below slot is quite a coup for the Astros, as it should free up nearly $1.5 million to sign other players taken in later rounds. It is also makes Appel’s decision not to sign with Pirates last season a good one, as the slot for the 9th overall pick was in the neighborhood of $3.8 million.

Appel was considered one of the top talents in last year’s draft but slipped to the Pirates after concerns over his signability. He did prove to be a tough sign but did no harm to his draft stock during his final season at Stanford University.

In the press release announcing the signing, Astros general manager Jeffrey Luhnow uttered bland platitudes about inking the top pick:

“Drafting and signing Mark Appel was a top priority for our organization this year…We are an organization focused on winning championships in the future and we expect Mark to be a big part of that effort.”

More tellingly, Luhnow told Brian Kenny of NBC Sports radio last week that the Astros basically outsourced one year of Appel’s development to Stanford. The Astros might have taken a chance on signing Appel last season but instead opted to choose shortstop Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico.

One year later and still with the first overall pick, the Astros pounced on the local product who also happened to be the best prospect in the draft. After another year of pitching against the top collegiate competition, Appel might move through the minor leagues even more quickly, giving the Astros a top-of-the-rotation arm as soon as next season.

The Astros need all the help they can get, especially on the mound. In Appel they have a player they believe in and a player they can put out front in their attempts to woo back the good people of Houston – with some nice pocket change left over to try and really build a winner in Houston. Rough as the last three years have been (not to mention this season), things are finally looking up for the Houston Astros.

Comments (6)

  1. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

  2. This negotiation fascinates me. Final draft year eligible pitcher (?) but best player in draft, #1 pick status. A slot number is publicly known, and yet still comes under by A LOT. Don’t really get how it would be done.

    • Well, Houston, having got the 1st overall pick thanks to their atrocious record last year, knew what their slot value would be, and it was a matter of drafting someone who would take that amount of money and would provide the best value for that price. That was Appel.

      What I don’t totally understand is what would have happened if he hadn’t taken their money. Would he just be a free agent, able to sign for any team? If I’m right in that, then I have to think that Houston had more to lose here than Appel did. If he was so obviously the one to be taken first overall, wouldn’t any team have been willing to pay him a big bonus, but wouldn’t have been able to because they didn’t get the right to draft him (because they weren’t as terrible as the Astros)? It’s funny that he would sign for below slot value given his leverage in the situation, whereas the Astros really can’t afford not to sign the first overall pick after being so terrible.

  3. Apparently #GodIsGreat. Would he have received the same bonus had he used #AllahuAkbar as a hashtag?

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