“He just checks all the boxes for us.”—Astros GM Jeff Luhnow on Mark Appel

Jeff Luhnow on Mark Appel…

“We’re absolutely thrilled. We believe he’s a premium talent. The fact that he went back to Stanford for his senior year and got better, continued to dominate in high level competition in college ball and did it with a great attitude, good work ethic. Everything about him. He just checks all the boxes for us.

“We really see him as a future potential ace. That’s exactly the type of player we need to be adding to the organization. He makes us better. He makes us significantly better.

“Obviously, anything can happen with a first-round pick, but we believe this is a special player who’ll be part of our championship team someday.”

On signing him…

“I’m very confident Mark Appel is going to put on an Astros uniform. He’s from here. He wants to play here. He’s been selected first in the draft. All the indicators are pointing in the same direction. I assume it’ll be fairly straight forward discussion and that he’ll sign sometime this year and get out and start pitching in our Minor League system.

“Mark is not subject to the deadline. And so, it can go on for a long time. I don’t expect that’s going to happen. I think every part involved has the same incentives here. And we feel good about the fact that he’ll be pitching this summer.

“I called Mark. He’s very happy. We had a very brief conversation. I told him welcome home. It’s a kid’s dream to go first in the country, first in the draft and to be selected by your hometown team. It just doesn’t get any better for that. It’s also really a great opportunity for us.”

Timetable…

“First of all, he has pitched a lot this year. I don’t really see any need to rush college pitchers that have already had a full college season workload. We’ll probably give him some time off, try and get him signed, get him out to the Minor Leagues.

“This is not a player we’re going to rush to the big leagues. This is a player that’s going to be here for awhile.

“As good as Pac 10 baseball is, professional baseball is harder, and the Major Leagues is a lot harder.

“We’ll have to let his performance dictate that. He certainly is a guy that’s capable of moving quickly based on his experience. But we’re not going to put any timeframe on it.”

How did his stuff improve?

“I only saw one game this year. I’ve seen him the last three years. For me, the secondary stuff was further along. The changeup turned into a plus pitch this year from what I saw. I also think he just had confidence, command of all his pitches and just was overall more dominant.

“Throughout the entire scouting year, we’ve seen Mark as the standard to beat. We put up a handful of players against him. Some got close. No one was able to get over the top.”

His workload at Stanford…

“One of the things we look at carefully is how the pitcher goes about delivering the ball and physically what they look like and what kind of shape they’re in. I think one of the reasons we’re very comfortable taking a pitcher in the draft. There have been various misses and hits taking pitchers in the draft.

“He has made every start for three years, and he was in the bullpen his freshman year. It’s unusual. As our scouts can attest, no once did they receive an email that he was going to miss a start or be pushed back to Sunday. He made it every time and pitched deep into games. His velocity held throughout the game. So we’re very comfortable.”

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