The Houston Astros selected Stanford University right-handed pitcher Mark Appel with the top pick in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft.
It is the second straight year the Astros claimed the first overall selection by having the worst record in the major leagues the previous season. Last year, they picked shortstop Carlos Correa with the top pick.
Appel, 21, was drafted eighth last year, and then returned to Stanford for his senior season after failing to agree on a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“This has just been such a surreal moment for me and my family knowing I’m going back home,” Appel, who was born in Houston and lived there until he was 12, said in a telephone interview with MLB.com.
Appel graduated from Stanford with a degree in management science and engineering after going 10-4 with a 2.12 earned run average and 130 strikeouts in 106 1/3 innings this season.
Appel was among 15 pitchers, including 12 right-handers, selected last night in the first round, the most among all positions. Also taken in the opening round were six outfielders, four shortstops, three third basemen, two first basemen, two catchers and one second baseman.
Of the first-round selections, 18 players were from college and 15 were from high schools with California leading with six players, followed by Texas with four and Florida and Georgia with three each. For the first time since the 2001 draft, there were no pairs of teammates selected in the first round.
Kris Bryant, a third baseman from the University of San Diego, was the second pick overall by the Chicago Cubs and was followed by two pitchers.
The Colorado Rockies selected right-hander Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma with the third pick and the Minnesota Twins took Texas high school right-hander Kohl Stewart with the fourth pick. The Cleveland Indians picked Georgia high school third baseman Clint Frazier at No. 5.
The New York Mets selected first baseman Dominic Smith from Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California, with the 11th pick. The 17-year-old, who bats and throws left-handed, hit .493 with seven home runs and 38 runs batted in during 27 games this season.
“We felt going back to last spring, into the summer, that this was one of the most advanced high school hitters that you’ll find,” said Tommy Tanous, the Mets’ director of amateur scouting. “The fact that he bats left-handed is even nicer.”
Smith, who committed to the University of Southern California, is the fifth position player taken in the first round by the Mets since 2008.
The Mets chose Nevada’s Basic High School right-handed pitcher Andrew Church as the 48th overall pick in the second round.
The New York Yankees selected third baseman Eric Jagielo, a junior at Notre Dame, as the 26th pick. Named the 2013 Big East Player of the Year, Jagielo batted .388 with 47 runs, 19 doubles, nine home runs and 53 runs batted in during 56 games with the Irish.
“We had a great first day,” said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ vice president of amateur scouting. “Eric Jagielo is a physical left-handed hitter with plus power. He shows a good combination of plate discipline and power.”
Center fielder Aaron Judge, 21, a junior at Fresno State, was the Yankees’ 32nd pick, and high school left-handed pitcher Ian Clarkin, 18, of San Diego was taken 33rd by the Yankees. The final two selections came as compensation for losing free agents Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano during the offseason.
With their 66th overall selection in the second round, the Yankees chose second baseman Gosuke Katoh of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego.
The three-day draft continues through tomorrow.
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