Four Pac-12 players taken on first night of MLB Draft

By the Pac-12 Conference

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — Four Pac-12 baseball players were selected in the first two rounds of the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Thursday. Stanford's Mark Appel (Sr., RHP) was a first round selection, while Austin Wilson (Jr., OF), also of Stanford, California's Andrew Knapp (Jr., C) and Arizona State's Trevor Williams (Jr., RHP) were taken in the second round.

Appel was selected by the Houston Astros with the No. 1 overall pick, while Williams was selected 44th overall by the Miami Marlins. Wilson was taken 10th in the second round (49th overall) by the Seattle Mariners, and Knapp went to the Philadelphia Phillies with the 53rd overall pick. Appel was previously selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the eighth pick in the 2012 MLB Draft but opted to return for his senior season at Stanford.

Appel became the Pac-12's 199th all-time first-round draft pick. He is the fifth top-10 pick for the Cardinal since 2006 and is the first Stanford player to be drafted with the top overall pick. The righty is the sixth Pac-12 player taken first overall and the second in the last three years (Gerrit Cole, UCLA, 2011). The Conference has produced 29 first-round picks since 2006 and has seen at least one player come off the board in the first round every year during that span. Stanford, meanwhile, has produced 27 first-round choices, including 13 since 2000.

Appel, Stanford's all-time strikeout leader (372), is a four-year contributor for the Cardinal and has been the club's Friday night starter for the last three seasons. In 2013, the Houston native ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with a 2.12 ERA and boasts a .203 opposing batting average. He leads the Conference and ranks fourth in the nation with 130 punch outs. A Louisville Slugger All-American, Appel went 10-4 in 14 starts and tossed four complete games. He issued just 23 walks and allowed 17 extra-base hits in 106.1 innings. The Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Appel is a finalist for a number of national postseason awards, including the Senior CLASS Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. He is also a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist. Appel was named the NCBWA Pitcher of the Year and garnered numerous All-America accolades from the NCBWA, Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America in 2012. A first team All-Pac-12 selection a season ago, Appel posted a 10-2 record in 2012 and led the Conference with 130 strikeouts en route to being named a Golden Spikes Award finalist and a Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist.

Williams owns a 2.99 career ERA, a figure that is tied for the fifth-lowest in school history in the aluminum bat era (min. 150 innings pitched). The Sun Devils' Friday night starter, he closed out the 2013 campaign with a 6-6 record in 16 starts and registered 81 strikeouts versus 26 walks, while allowing just a pair of home runs in a team-high 111.1 innings of work. He threw three complete games this season and has tossed five in his career. Williams was an All-Conference selection and a second team Louisville Slugger All-American as a sophomore in 2012 after posting a Division I-leading 12 victories. He finished the season with a 2.05 ERA, the third-lowest figure in the Conference, and fanned 59 batters while issuing 13 walks. His 1.07 walks per game ranked 10th in the nation. The right-hander garnered freshman All-America laurels from Collegiate Baseball newspaper and was a Pac-12 honorable mention performer in 2011 after making 32 appearances, mostly in a setup role out of the bullpen. He struck out 35 batters while walking six and turned in a 2.50 ERA.

Wilson was previously selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 12th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. The Los Angeles, Calif., product started 138 games in three seasons on the Farm and carries a .295 career batting average with 110 RBI and 107 runs scored. He has shown an ability to hit for power with 20 home runs to his credit, including a team-leading 10 as a sophomore in 2012. A two-time honorable mention All-Conference performer, the junior also boasts a .374 career on-base percentage. Wilson was limited by an elbow injury that sidelined him for much of this season, but in 31 games for the Cardinal, he hit .288 with five home runs and 26 RBI. He started all 59 games as a sophomore and ranked second on the team with 54 RBI, while leading the squad in home runs and extra-base hits (24). In 51 starts as a freshman, he batted .311 with two doubles, five home runs and 30 RBI.

Knapp is the 23rd Golden Bear to be taken in the first two rounds (1st-12, 2nd-11). He batted .294 with 35 doubles, 14 home runs and 82 RBI in three seasons at Cal and made significant strides each year. In 2013, the backstop hit .350, improving his career average by nearly 40 points, with 16 doubles, eight home runs and 41 RBI. At the end of the regular season, he ranked in the top five in the Pac-12 in six major offensive statistical categories. Knapp, who gunned down 21 would-be base stealers this season, was an All-Conference selection. He started all 54 games during his sophomore campaign and batted .256 with 16 doubles, five home runs and 25 RBI.

The draft will resume tomorrow with rounds 3-10 beginning at 9:30 a.m. PT and will conclude on Saturday with rounds 11-40 beginning at 10 a.m. PT.

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