Appel, a Houston native, was among the players considered worthy of the top pick a year ago, but he slipped to eighth, where he was taken by the Pirates. He didn't sign and returned to Stanford, where he will pitch his senior season next spring.
Astros scouting director Mike Elias said Appel is among four of five players the team is considering at No. 1, though that list that could change.
"I don't have a clear No. 1 in my mind right now and I'd say nobody does," Elias said. "I would say Mark Appel is absolutely back in the mix given what he did last year, the consideration he garnered last year and the serious consideration he had a the top of the Draft. He's back in there, so that strengthens the pool.
"The rest of the pool is pretty diverse. You've got other college players and some high school position players. I don't think there's a high school pitcher yet that has made the case to put himself in that group, sort of like Lucas Giolito did last year right off the bat. So that's probably the one piece that's missing. Historically, that's the one position that doesn't get taken 1-1, so that's not surprising."
The top pick means extra work for Elias and the scouting staff. The Astros will spend a lot of time and resources making sure they get the No. 1 pick right. The area scouts might see a potential No. 1 pick as many as 10 times, while Elias will try to get four or five looks.
"What it means for us we have some big decisions we have a lot of pressure to get it right," he said. "If we look at the history of it, there have been teams that have not seen the benefits of the No. 1 pick you might expect and still have gone on to have successful rebuilds and have come out a successful organization. It's still a major opportunity you're burning if you can't get that pick right."