STANFORD — Imagine everyone agreed you were the best at what you did. Imagine enough people told you that you believed it. Imagine you planned on starting your professional career by being recognized as the best in front of the whole world.
Now imagine that the one person whose opinion of you matters most decides someone else is better. And eventually it appears seven people are better.
Now what do you do?
That’s the situation Stanford pitcher Mark Appel found himself in when he fell to the eighth overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft last year. It seemed universally expected that the Houston Astros would pick him first, only Appel had never had any conversations with the team. Apparently, the Astros did not have conversations with anyone else, either, because they shocked everyone.
That was June 4. On June 8, Appel was knocked around by Florida State in the super regionals of the NCAA tournament, as the Cardinal saw their postseason end with a 17-1 loss.
All those factors combined to make Appel’s decision to turn down a deal from the Pittsburgh Pirates and come back for his senior year pretty obvious.
“In that situation,” he said, “the best situation possible for me was to come back to Stanford. I honestly believe that in the bottom of my heart for a number of reasons.”
The first reason he gave was completing his degree in management science and engineering next month. The second tied directly to the disappointing end to last season.
“I don’t think someone who hasn’t played college baseball really can understand the importance of going to Omaha and getting to experience that,” he said of making the College World Series, something Stanford has not done while Appel has been on the team.
“I believe that going to Omaha is a very important thing and if I were to sign last year, I would have never had the chance to go to Omaha as a player.”
Stanford coach Mark Marquess said what happened in the draft played out that way due to Houston’s quiet approach leading up to the draft. Marquess said he believes the teams that passed on Appel already had pre-draft deals with other players.
Appel said he believes teams will act differently next time around, having seen what can happen when assumptions are made prematurely.
In the meantime, he’s going to try one more time to make that trip to Omaha.