HOUSTON — Pitching dominated the conversation leading up to the 2013 MLB Draft and the Astros proved all that talk correct.
Houston took Stanford right-hander Mark Appel with the top overall pick this year and then got UC-Irvine right-hander Andrew Thurman with the top pick in the second round on Thursday.
For Appel, it’s the second time he’s been linked to the Astros at the top of the draft, after the team came close to taking the 6-foot-4 senior last season.
“We’re absolutely thrilled that this came to a conclusion today and that we selected Mark Appel with the first selection in the draft,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “We believe he is a premium talent and we see him as a future potential ace. He’s exactly the type of player that we need to be adding to the organization. He makes us significantly better and we believe this is a special player that is going to be a part of our championship team someday.”
Appel was a candidate to be drafted with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, but the Astros chose Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa instead. Appel then fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates at No. 8, but did not sign with the club in a contentious negotiation involving the Pirates’ harsh minor league training program for pitchers and the amount of money the club could offer him.
So, Appel went back to Stanford and turned himself into the top pick once again.
“I don’t think I necessarily had an end goal in mind when I turned down the Pirates’ offer,” Appel said. “My goals were to finish my degree, to become a better baseball player, a better person and better teammate. As far as that goes, I think I accomplished those things. No matter what happened in the Draft, I knew I had done everything that was in my control to put myself in the best situation possible.”