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May 21, 2013

Punk Hits

Eyes on the Prize

by Ian Miller


I saw Mark Appel pitch once before. It was early last season, down on The Farm, AKA Sunken Diamond, when it looked for all the world like he would be selected first overall in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

His stuff was electric. Fastball sat in the mid-90s and his slider absolutely unfair. It was there, and then it wasn't. To his opponents—mostly good-enough college hitters whose careers would end when they received their diplomas—it must have seemed like the ball was teleporting, Nightcrawler-style. Here it comes, the BAMF! It's in the dirt, six inches off the plate.

And it wasn't just the stuff. The body was big and muscular with room to add more mass. I wouldn't call his delivery effortless, but the mechanics were clean and repeatable. Appel looked like the whole package.

And he might have been, and might still be, but we all know what happened in the 2012 draft: concerns about signability and bonus demands and the involvement of “advisor” Scott Boras caused Appel to fall to no. 8, where he was selected by Pittsburgh. He opted not to sign, and returned to Stanford for his senior year which, at this point, looks to have paid off. There's a very good chance he could go 1-1 this year. The consensus seems to be that the Astros will select either Appel or Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray with the first pick.

I hadn't made time to see Appel this year, but on Friday night he pitched in what is basically my backyard. I work at UC Berkeley and the Golden Bears hosted the Cardinal at Evans Diamond, so I basically couldn't not go.

I headed over to Evans immediately after work, a couple of hours before first pitch. Cal took batting practice, followed by Stanford, and then both teams took infield. There were a few kids running around the grandstands, seemingly already high on cotton candy. A few diehard Cal and Stanford fans milled about while small groups of scouts sat on benches along the third baseline, taking everything in.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (05/21)
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Premium Article Punk Hits: Javier Lope... (05/14)
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Premium Article Punk Hits: Marco Scuta... (05/28)
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Baseball ProGUESTus: D... (05/21)

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