2013 MLB Draft: Four Pac-12 players selected on first night
Major League Baseball teams selected four Pac-12 players on Thursday, the first day of the 2013 first-year player draft. Both Bay Area schools and Arizona State were represented. Here's a glance at each of the four players picked by big league organizations.
Mark Appel, Stanford: Houston Astros, No. 1
Stanford's Mark Appel highlighted the evening when he became the first-ever Cardinal player selected with the top pick of the MLB draft. For the six-foot-four, 215-pound Texan, commissioner Bud Selig's announcement was a long time coming: Appel had been projected to be picked No. 1 overall in 2012, but he didn't hear his name until the eighth overall selection. That prompted a series of events that ended with Appel's return to Stanford for his senior year, where he broke the Cardinal's all-time strikeout record and earned his degree in management science and engineering while firmly establishing himself as the NCAA's most dominant Friday starter. His 98 MPH fastball, nasty slider in the upper 80s and back-breaking change-up will be major assets moving forward.
Trevor Williams, Arizona State: Miami Marlins, No. 44
The Miami Marlins then selected Arizona State pitcher Trevor Williams in the second round with the 44th overall pick. The hard-throwing right-hander, who has seen summer action in the Team USA bullpen, will require some seasoning before he is ready to pitch at the major league level. The 6-foot-3, 228-pounder was popular with scouts because of his durable frame and steady mound mechanics. This form has spearheaded his solid command of four pitches. Though Williams increased his strikeout rate in 2013, he did so at the expense of giving up more hits. With a fastball that sits in the low 90s, expect him to learn the intricacies of finding a good balance between pitching to contact and overpowering hitters at the next level. Given his full repertoire of pitches, that balance can be Williams' ticket to the big leagues.
Austin Wilson, Stanford: Seattle Mariners, No. 49
Five slots later, the Seattle Mariners grabbed Appel's younger teammate and bruising Stanford junior outfielder Austin Wilson. Cardinal coach Mark Marquess often jokes that the six-foot-five, 245-pound Wilson should be a football tight end instead of a baseball player, but the skipper certainly has been happy to have him on the Sunken Diamond grass. As one would expect when seeing his massive, muscular frame, Wilson has immense power -- the ball just sounds loud when it rockets off his bat. He's also developed his opposite field approach at the plate while showing off excellent athleticism in the outfield. Wilson possesses an absolute cannon for arm: He'll gun down his share of runners at home plate and third base when he begins playing at the next level. An elbow injury may have knocked Wilson down a few picks, but the Mariners are receiving excellent value with this selection.
Andrew Knapp, Cal: Philadelphia Phillies, No. 53
The Philadelphia Phillies nabbed Cal catcher Andrew Knapp with the 53rd overall pick in Thursday's second round. Skilled catchers with exceptional offensive ability are hot commodities at all levels of baseball, and Knapp fits that profile. The City of Brotherly Love will welcome a first-team All-Pac 12 pick who raked a team-best .350 (8 HR, 41 RBI) this past season. Knapp is a switch hitter who is known for his knack to deliver clutch knocks: He hit .392 (20-for-51) with runners in scoring position this past season. Knapp's .974 OPS illustrates his excellent combination of gap-to-gap power and patience, something that will mix well with his ability to play the catcher's position at the next level.
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David Lombardi has covered Pac-12 baseball since 2007. He’s a play-by-play voice and on-air reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.