Thank God for the return of baseball today, I hate MLB All-Star Week and the fact that my Red Sox haven’t played in a game since losing to the Yankees on Sunday night. I’m the type of guy who needs a result every night, good or bad, and taking four straight days off is tough for me even as a fan. Professional baseball is back with today’s action, but instead of talking about the current wrongs with my team (and there are plenty to be discussed if you are so willing) I want to focus one of the highest drafted players in this year’s MLB Draft who decided to not sign with the team who selected him, and instead decided to go back to school.
The player I’m referring to is Mark Appel, a right-handed starting pitcher for the Stanford Cardinal, who if you might remember my Noles beat up pretty bad during the Tallahassee Super Regional this past college season. Appel, drafted #8 overall in the first round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, today informed the club that he will be returning to school for his senior season (he passed his finals, y’all…an inside joke for anyone who may have watched his horrendous outing at Dick Howser Stadium).
Last season, as a junior for Stanford, Appel went 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 123 innings. He struck out 130 batters and walked just 30, putting in an extremely dominant season at one of the most highly regarded institutions of higher learning, an Ivy League school of the West if you may. He was named as a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and the National College Baseball Writers Association and a second-team selection by Baseball America, in addition to being named first team All-Pac-12. Appel had a ridiculous season, nobody could possibly deny that, and he deserved to be selected with the #8 overall pick by the Pirates (Appel had been selected in the 15th round by the Detroit Tigers out of high school). Appel may have even been selected higher in this year’s draft, but there were some questions about his “signability”, especially after being advised by super-agent Scott Boras, known as a tough guy to deal with in negotiations.
Earlier today, it became official that Appel will be headed back to central California to finish out his collegiate career and earn his degree. Under the new current labor rules, there was a 5 PM deadline to sign draft picks, and Appel decided to turn down the approximately $3.6 million that the Pirates reportedly offered. The MLB Entry Draft is now currently done by “slotted” contracts, and the slot Appel was drafted in is supposed to generate $2.9 million in salary, but since the team signed their other prospects for under slot value the Pirates could offer anywhere between $3.5 million to $3.9 million without incurring any penalties such as a tax or loss of future draft picks. Appel decided that his talents, and finishing his education, were worth more than that and he decided to head back to school for his senior year of college.
Pirate fans are irate about the issue. On the popular social network Twitter, there is way too much filth being spread towards Mr. Appel and if you would like to check it out yourself search for his mentions (@MAppel26). I won’t link you to it because nobody deserves the nonsense that anonymous social media can provide, but let me tell you it’s both entertaining and a sad state of human emotion. If only these morons looked into what happens next, and that the Pirates will receive the #9 overall pick in the 2013 draft due to not being able to sign this one player maybe the hatred wouldn’t be so severe. Maybe that knowledge would ease some of their concerns, but hey, it’s more fun to bash a young man for not deciding to play for your team when given the chance than to think about the future. Many fans are upset that $3.6 million was not enough to sign him either, and maybe some of their criticisms are warranted, but to do it in 140 characters on a site where people have no idea who you really are? Is that really the most effective way to show your displeasure?
The things being said to @MAppel26 are disgusting. Some of you humans are whacked. It's just a game...get a life!—
Jayson Werth's Beard (@JWerthsBeard) July 13, 2012
As a professional baseball fan, I have no qualms with Appel not signing. Much of the reason he slipped from #1 on many expert’s mock boards is that he wanted a ton of money and probably more than many teams were willing to pay. That includes the Pirates, who could have paid over-slot and risked luxury taxes and the potential loss of picks to sign him, but that wasn’t worth it to the franchise, and rightfully so. The Pirates knew that if they failed to sign him they would receive a top 10 pick in next year’s draft, and that is always a nice contingency plan to have. The Pirates, surprisingly, are a contender in the National League and today they lead the NL Central by a full game over the Cincinnati Reds and 2.5 games over the 2011 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, so Pittsburgh fans need to be happy about their team and not be too depressed over this one missed opportunity.
Mark Appel coming back to Stanford has to make that squad one of the favorites to make it to Omaha next year. As a fan of college baseball I hope that happens. I want my Noles to face him again, at least one more time, when he doesn’t have the excuse of taking a final from his downtown hotel room afterwards. Even if that wish doesn’t come true, my Red Sox will see Appel sometime within the next five years, after he has finished more education than probably 90% of Major League Baseball. The only thing we know for certain today is that Appel will be donning the Cardinal jersey for another 15 or so starts, and then next spring he will be drafted again (quite possibly by the Pirates with that #9 pick, since he won’t have any leverage at that point).
Stay classy, Pirate fans.