The Houston Astros selected Stanford pitcher Mark Appel with the No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday night.
Appel was considered a possible top pick last year, but Houston passed on the hometown kid and instead chose 17-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico. Appel slid to Pittsburgh at No. 8 but turned down a $3.8 million offer and returned to Stanford for his senior season.
The move paid off for Appel, a hard-throwing righty with a fastball in the mid-90s (mph). After going 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 106 1-3 innings this season for the Cardinal, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Appel is expected to fetch about $2 million more than he passed on with the Pirates.
''This is just a surreal moment for me and my family,'' Appel said in an interview on MLB Network. ''Just knowing that I'm going back home is a real honor.''
The deadline for teams to sign draft picks is July 12, but that doesn't apply to Appel because he is a college senior.