The second installment of “Looking Back” will be about the 2013 MLB draft. Unlike the 2009 MLB draft, this one is much more positive for the New York Yankees. This is a draft that features two trades involving competitive balance picks. Also, the number one pick in this draft was drafted with the eighth overall pick the previous season. The compensation pick awarded for the failure to sign that player is on the verge of becoming a star player. Six full major league seasons have been completed since this 2013 MLB draft. So there are many players who will still make a name for themselves.
In 2010 the Yankees lost out on Mike Trout. But in the 2013 MLB draft, the Yankees draft was saved by getting a key compensation pick for Nick Swisher signing with the Cleveland Indians. There is a back story on Swisher. The Yankees acquired Swisher from the Chicago White Sox after the 2008 season to be their starting first baseman. This was before the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira. Teixeira was not a lock to sign with the Yankees at the time. In fact, he was heavily rumored to be signing with the Baltimore Orioles. Once the Yankees signed Teixeira, Joe Girardi who was the manager at the time announced that Xavier Nady would be the starting right fielder. This was Swisher’s other position.
Despite getting numerous trade offers for Swisher the Yankees kept him which proved to be a smart choice. Nady would injure his elbow and have Tommy John surgery and Swisher became the everyday right fielder. Following the 2012 season, Swisher was a free agent and the Yankees offered him the one-year qualified offer of 13.3 million dollars. This would ensure the Yankees would get compensation if Swisher signed with another team.
Under the terms of the new CBA, the Indians would lose their first draft pick outside of the top 10 picks for signing Swisher. The Indians first pick was fifth overall which they kept but their second-round pick was forfeited. The Yankees compensation pick for losing Swisher was the 32nd overall pick. That pick was Aaron Judge. Judge won Rookie of the Year in 2017 and has become the face of the Yankees. Swisher’s Indians career was not very good. By the way, with the fifth overall pick, the Indians selected Clint Frazier who is now a member of the Yankee organization.
The second most prominent compensation pick belonged to the Pittsburgh Pirates. This is all about the Mark Appel story. Appel was first drafted in the 2009 draft by the Detroit Tigers in the 15th round. But he did not sign with Motown instead he went to Stanford. After being named as the top collegiate pitcher in 2012 Appel was projected to be the first player in the draft. He was selected with the eighth pick by the Pirates. He fell in the first round because teams felt he would be difficult to sign. They were right. Appel went back to college and was selected first overall in the 2013 MLB draft by the Houston Astros.
The Pirates were awarded the ninth overall pick as compensation for not drafting Appel. With that pick they selected Austin Meadows. Meadows was drafted out of high school and immediately became one of the best prospects in the game. Baseball America ranked him as the 49th best prospect after the 2013 season. Meadows would improve every season until he was ranked 6th overall following the 2016 season. Meadows was injured in 2017 which dropped him to 44th overall by the end of the season. But the Pirates still ranked him as their second-best prospect.
In a shock to the baseball world Meadows was traded along with Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz to the Tampa Bay Rays for the underachieving Chris Archer. Meadows is now flourishing into a great player. In 2019 Meadows had a slash line of .291/.364/.558 with 33 HR and 89 RBI.
One Bad Appel
Mark Appel has certainly made an impact on the game of baseball. Unfortunately, it was not because of his play on the field. Appel was drafted three times which is certainly not an uncommon thing. He has the rare occurrence of being the first overall pick in the same draft where another team received a draft pick as compensation for not signing him the year before. But make no mistake about it Appel bet on himself at that time and he won. In 2012 Appel did not sign after getting drafted with the eighth overall pick. Appel had a number that the Pirates would not match. So Appel went back to college.
This could have blown up in Appel’s face. He had his senior season at Stanford to prove he was worth the money he was asking for. What if Appel had a bad season? What if Appel got hurt? None of that happened and the Astros selected Houston native Mark Appel with the first pick of the draft. Because Appel is from Houston he was on the Astros radar the year before in the 2012 draft.
The Astros ultimately drafted Carlos Correa with the first overall pick in 2012. But now one year later with the Astros in the exact same spot they drafted Appel. Appel signed with the Astros and received a 6.35 million dollar signing bonus. It was alleged that the Astros offered Appel a six million dollar signing bonus in 2012. Once Appel rejected that offer he fell to the eighth overall pick by the Pirates who offered a 3.8 million dollar signing bonus.
Then Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow called Appel the most significant investment the Astros have ever made. Appel was to be the centerpiece in the Astros resurgence. So what happened? Who knows. Appel says it was a number of things as outlined in this article. He was cocky and for the first time in his life he struggled as a pitcher. Appel was taken out of his comfort zone at Single-A Lancaster and pitched badly. After the 2015 season Appel was a part of a package in a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies for closer Ken Giles.
The Phillies designated Appel for assignment following the 2017 season. Mark Appel has not pitched since then. Appel joins the precious few players to be selected first overall to not have played in the majors and is out of the game.
Best Value Pick
If you look at this draft 10 years from today there could be a different player selected as the best value pick. Since this draft was in 2013 a lot of these players are just starting to come into their own. This one was a close one. Anytime you can get a starting player who has already played three positions in his first full season and also flirted with winning a batting title in the 12th round that is an absolute score. The New York Mets drafted Jeff McNeil with the 356th overall pick out of California State University.
McNeil can flat out hit. In one season at CSU McNeil batted .348 in 56 games. Once McNeil got into the Mets organization “The Squirrel” batted .311 in 428 minor league games with 28 HR and 203 RBI. McNeil was called up to the majors in the 2018 season and immediately became a fan favorite batting .329 in 63 games. McNeil entered the 2019 season with the expectations of being a major part of the Mets and he did not disappoint. He batted .318 with 23 HR and 75 RBI despite missing 29 games.
McNeil has endured himself to the fans with his intensity and his approach to every at-bat in every game. McNeil is expected to be an integral part of the New York Mets as we enter a new decade.
Other Notable Picks
While it’s hard to argue getting a gem in the 12th round but a case can be made for the reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger drafted in the 4th round 124th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Another great pick was Trey Mancini. The Baltimore Orioles selected Mancini in the 8th round with the 249th overall pick.
The Minnesota Twins selected catcher Mitch Garver in the 9th round with the 260th overall pick. All Garver did in 2019 was hit 31 HR which was three behind the Major League leader Gary Sanchez. In the 17th round with the 518th overall pick, the Rays selected Willie Calhoun. Calhoun has the potential to be the steal of this draft.
All In The Family
It’s typical for the sons of former Major League players to be drafted. Many times these players are drafted right out of high school despite there being little chance they will sign a contract. Sometimes they are done as favors to a player who has a long history with a team or executive. Who can forget the favor Tommy Lasorda granted when the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Mike Piazza in the 62nd round.
The Philadephia Phillies drafted Mark Leiter Jr. in the 22nd round. Obviously his father is Mark Leiter but his uncle is Al Leiter. The New York Mets drafted the son of Lee Mazzilli, L.J. Mazzilli in the fourth round. The Miami Marlins drafted the son of Tim Wallach, Chad Wallach in the fifth round. The Baltimore Orioles drafted Mike Yastrzemski in the 14th round. Yastrzemski’s father Carl Jr (also known as Mike) played minor league ball but his grandfather is the famous “Yaz” Carl Yastrzemski from the Boston Red Sox.
These players that were drafted have brothers who are also in baseball. However, only one-half of these tandems has made any kind of impact in the majors thus far. The Atlanta Braves drafted Jacob Heyward in the 38th round. Jacob is the brother of Jason Heyward. The Rays drafted Kean Wong in the 4th round. Keon’s brother is Kolten Wong.
When the San Francisco Giants drafted Tyler Rogers in the 10th round it completed a rare feat. Tyler joined his identical twin brother Taylor Rogers as both played in the majors in the 2019 season. The Giants drafted another player who has a brother in the game. Jonah Arenado was drafted in the 16th round. Jonah’s brother is Nolan Arenado.
In the 12th round the Seattle Mariners drafted Justin Seager. You might know both of Justin’s brothers who are currently in the majors; Kyle Seager and Corey Seager. Lastly in the 14th round the Detroit Tigers drafted Ben Verlander. Ben’s brother is one of the best pitchers in the game; Justin Verlander.
Unsigned Draft Picks
Every draft has a number of players who did not sign a pro contract and instead went on to college. The 2013 MLB draft certainly has it’s share of those. This list of draftees have some impressive fathers who were star players. The Houston Astros drafted Kacy Clemens in the 35th round. Kacy’s dad is “The Rocket” Roger Clemens. The Yankees drafted the son of one of their most beloved players. Josh Pettitte was drafted in the 37th round. Josh’s father is Andy Pettitte.
Also in the 37th round the Chicago White Sox drafted Cody Yount. Cody is the son of the great Robin Yount. Cody did actually sign with the White Sox but was out of baseball after the 2014 season. The Detroit Tigers drafted Torii Hunter Jr. in the 36th round. Hunter’s dad is Torii Hunter. The Seattle Mariners drafted Taylor Snyder in the 34th round. Taylor’s father is Cory Snyder.
The 2013 MLB draft certainly had it’s memorable picks and missed picks. I am anxious to see what this draft becomes in another ten years.
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