A pitcher who balked at signing last year after being selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft was the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday night.
The Houston Astros took Stanford senior Mark Appel with the top pick in the first-year player draft. A year ago, the Astros had passed on Appel when they also had the first pick and opted instead for shortstop Carlos Correa.
Appel, a Houston native, was drafted No. 8 overall in 2012 by the Pittsburgh Pirates but spurned a $3.8 million offer to return to Stanford for his senior season.
"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 and become a better baseball player and 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."
The right-hander with a mid-90s fastball posted a 10-4 record with a 2.12 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 106 1/3 innings at Stanford. He also pitched four complete games for the Cardinal and opponents had a .203 batting average against him.
"He just checks all the boxes for us," Astros general manager Jeff 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."
Luhnow expects Appel, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, to be pitching the team's minor league system this summer.
"We'll give him some time off, get him signed and get him out to the minor leagues," Luhnow said. "This is not a player we're going to rush to the big leagues. This is a player who's going to be here for a while."
The Chicago Cubs took University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant with the second pick. The 6-foot-5 right-handed hitter led the NCAA this season with 31 home runs.
"I honestly think I can play in the big leagues now," Bryant said. "I have that type of confidence in myself. Like I said, that's not my decision. I'll leave that up to the guys in charge."
The Colorado Rockies had the third pick and selected University of Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray, who was thought to be under consideration by the Astros as the No. 1 selection.
With the fourth pick, the Minnesota Twins went with hard-throwing right-hander Kohl Stewart, who was widely acknowledged to be the top high-school pitcher in the draft. Also an outstanding quarterback, Stewart has committed to Texas A&M but is expected to sign a baseball contract.
The Cleveland Indians used the No. 5 spot to select outfielder Clint Frazier of Loganville (Ga.) High School. Frazier was the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
The Philadelphia Phillies selected California high school shortstop J.P. Crawford, a cousin of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford, with the 10th pick. Other players with familiar names chosen in the opening round were University of Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley, cousin of Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jordan Shipley who went 15th to Arizona, and North Carolina high school right-hander Hunter Harvey, son of former major league closer Bryan Harvey who was the 22nd pick by Baltimore.
The first two rounds of the three-day, 40-round draft was held Thursday night at the MLB Neword Studios in Secaucus, N.J.