Draft Notes: Astros, Appel, Gray

Conventional wisdom held that the Astros would select Stanford pitcher Mark Appel with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 Amateur Draft. The Astros nearly took him and were prepared to offer a bonus of around $6MM, Jim Callis of Baseball America reports (subscription-only). They ended up taking Carlos Correa instead, and Appel fell all the way to the Pirates at No. 8. Since the Pirates (who had a smaller draft bonus pool than the Astros) were unwilling to forfeit their top pick in 2013 to sign Appel, they couldn't meet his bonus demands, and he turned them down. That decision appears likely to work out well for Appel, who will probably be the first or second overall pick this year.

Two-time first-rounders have a mixed track record, Callis notes. J.D. Drew more than doubled his payday when, as the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 Draft, he turned down $2.6MM from the Phillies, then signed with the Cardinals for $6.7MM the following year. He had a strong big-league career, too, as did fellow two-time first-rounders Jason Varitek and Charles Johnson. And Gerrit Cole, who turned down the Yankees in 2008 and became the first overall pick in the 2011 Draft, has a promising future. But the list of two-time first-round picks also includes Danny Goodwin (who actually was the first overall pick in both the 1971 and 1975 Drafts, but didn't make an impact in the big leagues) and several others whose careers didn't turn out so well. Here are more notes on the upcoming draft.

  • The six top candidates for the Astros are Appel, Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray, Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea, San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant, and Georgia high school outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo reports. North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran is "more of a dark-horse candidate," Mayo says.
  • Of those six, Appel and Gray stand out, but the others aren't separating themselves from the field, Mayo says. That could lead to some twists and turns in the draft after Appel and Gray are selected. "The late risers in this Draft could make some big jumps, because we're a little uncertain about what we've seen so far," says one scouting director.
  • Kiley McDaniel's mock draft at Scout.com makes that point clear. Appel (Astros), Gray (Cubs), Bryant (Rockies), Frazier (Twins) and Moran (Indians) are the first five picks, but the draft quickly becomes unpredictable after that, with Meadows at No. 10 (Blue Jays) and Manaea all the way down at No. 18 (Dodgers).

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