Mark Appel's words do not sound like those of a kid who is thrilled to have been selected in the top 10 of the MLB Draft.
The Pirates, of course, were ecstatic to have the opportunity to pick up the top-rated right-handed pitcher this year, especially when that pitcher was supposed to be long gone by the time Pittsburgh made its selection at No. 8.
Appel is a player the Pirates have been following for years, ever since he was a high schooler in Northern California. The Stanford standout was projected to go as high as No. 1 overall to the Astros, but they passed him over in favor of superstar shortstop Carlos Correa.
And then six more teams passed on him, too, until he fell right into the pleasantly surprised Pirates' lap.
Appel is an intimidating physical prospect at 6'5" and 215 pounds, and his numbers are intimidating, too: He went 10-1 with a 2.27 ERA this season, and he's been a key component in helping the Cardinal advance to the College World Series Super Regionals versus Florida State.
Though Pittsburgh was thrilled to have gotten such a high-caliber prospect with the No. 8 pick, Appel himself seemed less than thrilled when he issued the following statement, courtesy of the Pirates organization and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
I'm currently concentrating on winning a national championship and finishing my academic endeavors at Stanford. I will address the possibility of a professional career in due time.
Roughly, it translates to: This is brutal, so please don't bother me. That does not sound like the appropriate tone of a player whose major league dreams are on the verge of coming true.
Likely, Appel is disappointed that he fell so far—or rather, so much farther than he was expected to—on Monday night. Likely, he was expecting to go No. 1, or No. 3, at the absolute worst, and he has now lost millions of dollars as a result of his mini-plummet. Possibly, he's frustrated about spending the next several years with baseball's version of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Any way you look at it, though, that simple statement—and the utter lack of excitement it portrays—doesn't seem like a good sign for the Pirates as they prepare to embark upon contract negotiations with their first overall pick, who has until the middle of July to sign or return to Stanford for his senior season.
Appel would do himself more harm than good returning to school for another year; the chance that he gets injured and hurts his own draft stock is much higher than his chances of going No. 1 next year. But this negotiation is not going to be pleasant, particularly considering the fact that Scott Boras is going to be at the forefront of it.
According to the Post-Gazette's Bill Brink, baseball's collective bargaining agreement stipulates that the Pirates have $6.56 million to spend on all of their draft picks in the first 10 rounds, and the expected value of the No. 8 pick is $2.9 million. Compare that to the $7.9 million the Astros are expected to spend on Correa, and you can see why Appel is disappointed.
If the Pirates choose to spend more than $2.9 million on Appel, they're free to do so—but it could compromise their ability to sign their later-round picks.
These negotiations are going to be risky and messy, and in the end, both the Pirates and the player could both end up pretty unhappy. Perhaps Pittsburgh didn't get as lucky as it thought it did on Monday night.