2012 MLB Draft Picks: Signings, Failures, and Surprises


Monday July 16th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: The 2012 Major League Baseball Draft was a good one for all of the teams except the Pirates. Unfortunately, the Pirates couldn’t ink their first round pick, pitcher Mark Appel. Pittsburgh will receive the ninth overall pick in next year’s draft, and will have to deal with the reality of losing out on a top arm. Here’s a list of some unsigned draft picks and some surprises who ended up signing:


Mark Appel, Eighth overall, Pirates

Appel was touted as a possible first-overall pick, with a plus fastball and three years of college experience. Once the Astros passed him up, many thought the Twins would pick him at second overall. When the Twins selected outfielder Byron Buxton, the Mariners seemed to be the next to have Appel as a steal. On and on this went until Appel fell to eighth overall. I couldn’t believe it, and I’m sure many were stunned. Appel seemed like a good fit for many of the teams that passed on him, but good for the Pirates—they got a steal. Now they had a possible Gerrit Cole/Mark Appel one-two punch for years to come. For the Pirates, there was a lot to be optimistic about. For Appel, not so much. In my opinion, after dropping to eighth, he was upset enough to decide to return to Stanford and try to build on a 10-2 record with a 2.56 ERA in order to be selected higher in next year’s draft.

This isn’t a smart move at all. By rejecting the Pirates, Appel turned down about $3.8 million as his signing bonus. In addition, numerous things can go wrong over the course of a year—most concerning: injury. If Appel were to get injured next year, depending on the severity, his draft status would be uncertain. Another risk that could affect his draft status is his performance next year. It will be pretty hard to follow-up a stellar season like his last, and if he can’t put up similar numbers, he may raise doubts. And, if he did get drafted after an injury or an underperformance, he would most definitely fall much lower than eighth overall, forfeiting millions of dollars. Maybe he simply doesn’t want to play for the Pirates due to their lack of success in previous seasons. In 1997, before the draft, J.D. Drew and agent Scott Boras declared that they wouldn’t sign for anything less than ten million dollars. Nonetheless, the Phillies selected Drew second overall hoping that he would sign for less. Drew stuck to his word and rejected the Phillies and played in an independent league for a year until the next draft. Upon returning to Philadelphia as a major leaguer on a different team, Drew received a shower of batteries in the outfield—not necessarily the reception one would expect for a second overall pick. Ironically, Drew and Appel share the same advisor—Scott Boras. No wonder Appel didn’t sign. I don’t think the hatred of Appel in Pittsburgh would be this severe, but no doubt, there will be negative feelings in the future. Just ask Phillies fans how they still feel about Drew.

Appel’s situation is similar to that of Tyler Beede and the Blue Jays of last year. Beede was the Jays’ first round pick out of high school that happened to have a strong commitment to Vanderbilt. He told teams not to draft him, but the Jays did so anyway. Beede opted to go to Vanderbilt rather than sign, which cost the Jays their first round pick. This could affect Toronto later on if they are thin on pitching. It doesn’t look like they will be though, with Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow heading the already strong staff, and prospect Noah Syndergaard in the minors. The Pirates might not be so fortunate.

Another factor possibly influencing Appel could be the proximity to his home. A Texas native, he was hoping to be picked by the Astros at number one overall. Appel could be looking to get selected by the Astros or the Rangers next year. The only upside that I see to staying at Stanford will be receiving his degree, and possibly reaching the College World Series again, which must be priorities for Appel. We’ll see what happens with Appel next year at Stanford, but from my perspective, I can only look at this decision as a poor one—leaving $3.8 million on the table and passing up the opportunity to be a key man in the pitching rotation of a now-improving Pirates team.

Teddy Stankiewicz, second round, Mets

Listed at first base and third base as his primary positions (he also pitches), Stankiewicz wasn’t too crucial for the Mets to sign. With David Wright and Ike Davis as the future at those positions, the Mets would’ve needed to convert this Arkansas-commit to a full-time pitcher and possibly waste his bat. Also with some promising pitching in prospect Zack Wheeler, this signing wasn’t a must.

Alec Rash, second round, Phillies

Rash was highly regarded out of high school with a plus fastball. Committed to Missouri, some thought he would sign with Philadelphia. The Phillies supposedly pulled his offer after he performed poorly in a summer league. He was said to have hit 95 mph already with his fastball which is scary to think about as he will develop his other pitches in college. Look for Rash to go high in a draft to come.

Brandon Thomas, fourth round, Pirates

It was a rough draft for the Pirates. Drafted in the fourth round by Pittsburgh as an outfielder, Thomas, like Appel, was also a college Junior. He will return to Georgia Tech for his senior year. This decision isn’t as ill-advised as Appel’s because Thomas was picked later. After another year of development in college, he has a chance to move up in the draft.


Lucas Giolito, 16th overall, Nationals

Coming out of high school and committed to UCLA, Giolito didn’t have much reason to sign with the Nationals. Taking a big risk, the Nationals used their first round pick on a young, injured arm. Giolito had arm surgery at the beginning of the high school season and it was believed that he would fall low in the draft.  Surprisingly, the Nationals took him at 16th overall and offered him 2.92 million dollars. If this isn’t a demonstration of their confidence in him, then I don’t know what is. Giolito took advantage of this and signed, providing even more promise to this on-the-rise Nationals team… providing that his arm is healthy.

Kevin Gausman, fourth overall, Orioles

Gausman was expected to return to LSU for his senior year, but instead signed with the Orioles for 4.32 million at the last-minute. Returning to college would have been even worse for Gausman than is the case for Appel. Gausman received even more money than Appel was slated to and probably wouldn’t move up any higher in next year’s draft. By signing now, Gausman will already be in a system gaining some experience by this time next year and will probably be in the majors sooner than if he had stayed in college for another year. I guess the only upside for his returning to college would have been graduating with a degree and a possible CWS appearance.

***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, MLB reports Intern & Facebook Administrator.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***


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About bernieolshansky

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve experienced some exciting times with the local baseball teams—the Giants winning the World Series being the most memorable highlight. Some of my favorite players include Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, and Cliff Lee among others. I played baseball up through my freshman year of high school and transitioned into being a full time fan. I regularly attend major and minor league games when I have free time. I enjoy working at a baseball store. I’m in my senior year of high school and hope to major in Journalism or Sports Administration in college. Follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky).

Posted on July 16, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles, On the Verge: MLB Prospects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on 2012 MLB Draft Picks: Signings, Failures, and Surprises.

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