STANFORD, Calif. – Mark Appel has no idea whether major league teams passed on him early in the first round of last year’s amateur draft because his adviser is Scott Boras. And the right-hander isn’t worried about a repeat this June.
Projected as high as No. 1, he went to Pittsburgh with the eighth overall pick, failed to sign and returned to Stanford for his senior season in 2013. He’s not concerned about the difference in a couple of million dollars at this stage, or delaying his possible path to the big leagues by a year.
Appel was the only unsigned player among 31 first-round picks last year, turning down the Pirates’ $3.8 million offer in the first year of new restrictions designed to slow draft spending.
He hopes to pitch Stanford to the College World Series and is set to finish his degree next month in management, science and engineering.
Appel isn’t about to say that he might have been selected No. 1 had he not been represented by Boras, and he said he never considered switching agents.
“I’ve never thought about that,” he maintained Friday. “I don’t think any team is unwilling to negotiate with Scott Boras. As my adviser, I understand that he does a really good job for his players. I trust in his abilities. We have a relationship where we’re honest with each other. I can’t tell you what the teams were thinking because we never talked to any teams. Whether teams made assumptions that weren’t true or whatever it may be, obviously we saw what the result was. What happened happened. We just kind of have to go from there and make the best decision possible.
“At that situation, the best decision possible for me was to come back to Stanford. I honestly believe that in the bottom of my heart, for a number of reasons.”
Appel was 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 16 starts for Stanford last season, with 130 strikeouts in 123 innings, raising his college record to 18-10.
Like No. 1 NFL draft pick Andrew Luck – a more high-profile Stanford star now with the Indianapolis Colts – Appel chose to stick around campus for his final year. The top factor was finishing his degree, something to fall back on after baseball.
Even if Appel drops below the top three picks in June’s draft, he said won’t look at his decision as a mistake – “Not at all, definitely not, no.”
Under the labor contract agreed to in November 2011, each team has a total pool of money from which to sign players without incurring a tax. That number comes from the sum of set figures – $7.2 million last year for the No. 1 pick, $6.2 million for No. 2, $5.2 million for the third pick, $4.2 million for No. 4, and so on. Teams and players could negotiate the amount of each deal.
If a player didn’t sign, the team lost that slot’s amount from of its pool. And if a player signed for less than slot, the difference could be shifted to contracts for other picks.
Appel said he can’t put a percentage on how much the money factored into his decision. But clearly, there’s a big difference between $7.2 million and $3.8 million.