As I said before Appel was a top two talent across the board by almost every publication and if you thought that he had a chance to fall to the Pirates then I would have said that you were on all kinds of drugs. Appel and Byron Buxton were the two guys that there was pretty much a 100% chance of getting but Appel fell and Neal Huntington stuck to his guns and did what he said they were going to do, take the best player on the board.
This actually wasn't as slam dunk of a pick as I most people think as the new CBA and draft rules give each team a draft pool that allots the Pirates only $6.6M to sign their first ten picks. To put that in a little more perspective the Astros have over $7M to sign their first round pick alone. If the Astros and other teams in the top three passed on him because of money demands then that makes it hard for the Pirates because they still need money allocated to the rest of the nine rounds. Huntington said that he was going to take the best player on the board and he did and it was absolutely the right move. Dave Littlefield doesn't make that pick and if the Pirates sign Appel that rotation with Gerrit Cole and Jamison Taillon is going to be disgusting.
A little more on Appel, the 6'5 215 pound right hander is still in the World Series for Stanford after throwing an outstanding season. So far this year he is 10-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 119 innings. He struck out 127 hitters and only walked 26 while holding hitters to a .210 average. He was a work horse for the Cardinals and will further strengthen the Pirates pitching depth in the system.
Appel works with three pitches which he can all throw for strikes headlined by a fastball that sits in the 93-94 range while he can get it up to 98 which has been regarded as a plus pitch already. He also throws a hard curve/slider which is his second best pitch and is developing a change up that he uses. All three pitches are projected to be there for him once he gets into a program and if he can do that it will be a great compliment to what the Pirates have.
Again a lot of this pick is going to be signability. Pat Lackey of WHYGAVS asked a great question on twitter when he asked this:
Serious question: if Boras plays chicken until 11:59 on July 15th, how can the Pirates have any idea what to do with picks 1S-10?
— Pat Lackey (@whygavs) June 5, 2012
To be honest I think this is the real leverage that the Boras and Appel camp have when it comes to dealing with the Pirates. He was only a junior in college so he can go back for a senior season and if he gets picked in the top-3 next year he will make close to double the money he could make this year. This pick does make the rest of the draft interesting for the Pirates but I am glad that they took the best player available. They can figured everything out as they go along.
Probably the best way this goes for the Pirates is this response to Pat's question:
@whygavs pick a number for Appel, sign the rest of the guys asap with what's left, then tell Boras that's all there is. Take it or wait 1yr
— Brian Cartwright (@blcartwright) June 5, 2012
It should be an interesting ride. I don't think the Pirates can put all their eggs in a basket and hope they can sign Appel only to have him walk. Not only does that burn your first round pick for this season but that means that you didn't get much done with the other ten picks in the top ten rounds. It's a tough game to play but you have to believe the Pirates have thought about this.
The new draft was supposed to give the best players to the teams that were the worst last year. I am not sure how this helps the Pirates that they might have to sacrifice maybe half of their first 11 picks because they can't give Appel an extra million or two is just slapping the small market teams in the face.
God, I love the draft. I also hate the new draft rules. Do with that as you will.
Hit the jump for some video of Appel