The MLB draft is just a few short days away and teams are trying to finalize their plans for the future. The Colorado Rockies are no exception, and with the third overall pick in the draft, they have a chance to grab one of the elite prospects in this year’s class.
As it was explained in the previous draft profile for USD third baseman Kris Bryant, the Rockies are most likely going to choose one of three players: Bryant, Jonathan Gray from Oklahoma University, and Mark Appel.
If you followed the draft last year, then chances are you’re already familiar with Appel. He was widely considered the top prospect in the 2012 draft following a dominant junior year at Stanford, and for a while it looked like he was a lock to go to the Houston Astros with the first overall pick.
However, Appel was and still is represented by Scott Boras. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the estimated price tag for signing him skyrocketed, with rumors that the player’s camp was asking for up to and perhaps even more than $8 million to sign with Houston.
Concerns over how much it would cost to sign Appel caused him to slide in the draft, eventually being selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the eighth pick of the draft. Appel and Boras held tight to their salary demands.
While only the Pirates, Appel and Boras know for sure what went on during negotiations, the rumors coming out of Pittsburgh were that the Appel camp was reluctant to budge from their initial salary demands despite being the eighth pick in the draft instead of the first.
Appel, for what it’s worth, went back to Stanford for his senior season and continued to dominate the Pac-12 conference. He finished the season 10-4 with an ERA of 2.12 and 130 strikeouts in 106.3 innings. The right-hander leaves Stanford as the all-time record holder for strikeouts at the school, an impressive feat when you consider how many future major leaguers have called Palo Alto home during their college years.
He can run his fastball up to the plate at 95-97 mph and mixes in a mid-80s slider and a low-80s change-up. It might not be an exaggeration to say that Appel has better “stuff” than any pitcher currently under contract with the Rockies.
Whether Colorado will actually have the chance to select Appel or not will likely come down to a matter of cost. Houston and the Chicago Cubs both will pick before the Rockies, and both teams could absolutely use a pitcher with Appel’s type of potential as a future big-league ace.
The question is whether either team will feel good enough about their chances of getting Appel signed to a deal. Both Houston and Chicago had a chance to select Appel last season, and both teams chose to pass on him for less expensive high school prospects. Both teams are still trying to fill quite a few holes, and neither will likely want to commit a large chunk of their available draft budget to one pitcher unless they feel he’s a sure thing.
The Rockies are in a good situation in the no. 3 spot. If the teams ahead of them decide to go for the top pitching talent, then it will be set up perfectly for Colorado to snag the top bat in this draft class. If either Houston or Chicago decides that Appel is too costly for their rebuilding efforts, then the Rockies will have a great opportunity to draft an impact arm who could step in and nearly immediately be one of the best pitchers in the entire organization.