Astros 1st and 2nd round recap

By Matt Appel

At some point on Thursday, the Houston Astros decided they couldn’t afford to pass on Mark Appel twice.

With the first overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, the Astros took Appel, the Stanford standout, whom they chose not to take with their first selection last year in favor of SS Carlos Correa. After falling to the Pirates at the #8 pick last year, Appel wound up not signing and going back to Palo Alto for his senior season. That calculated risk has now paid off for the Houston native.

This past season, Appel went 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA for the Cardinal. The selection of Appel came as a little bit of a surprise, as the consensus pick for Houston at #1 was Oklahoma righty Jonathan Gray, who wound up going third overall to Colorado. Appel’s scouting report lists both his fastball, which touches 98 MPH at times, and a wipeout slider as plus pitches at the major league level. The Houston native has an extremely athletic frame for a hurler at 6’5″, 215. For Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, the pick of Appel came down to filling needs.

“He just checks all the boxes for us,” Luhnow said. “We see him as a future ace and the type of player we need to be adding to the organization. He makes us better. He makes us significantly better.”

The Astros must now negotiate a contract with Appel and his agent, Scott Boras. That appeared to be a factor working against the righty leading up the draft, but both Luhnow and Boras made statements Thursday night suggesting that getting a contract put together won’t be a problem. Appel projects to rise through the minor leagues rather quickly, and could see the Majors within a year.

With their second round pick, the Astros went with another college right-hander. The team took UC-Irvine starter Andrew Thurman with the 40th overall pick. According to Luhnow, Thurman was the highest rated player on their board at that time (not that you’ll ever hear a GM say otherwise). Thurman comes with 4 solid pitches, a mid-90s fastball being the standout offering. Thurman was one of the the Cape Cod summer league’s best pitchers last year, striking out 49 hitters in just 39 innings. Luhnow added that the Astros pegged Thurman as a first-round talent.

Rounds 3-10 start today at 1 pm. The Astros will start off the day with the 74th overall pick. Tune into for continued coverage of the draft.

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