Report: Astros and top pick Appel reach agreement

Report: Astros and top pick Appel reach agreement

HOUSTON -- The Astros have reportedly reached a contract agreement with No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, the Stanford right-hander who was born in Houston.

According to CBSSports.com, Appel and the Astros have reached a deal for between $6 million and $6.5 million, which would be well below the $7.8 million assigned slot value.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow wouldn't confirm the report Saturday, saying in a text message nothing had changed in the past 24 hours. Luhnow said Friday the club planned to engage Appel next week, after he graduates from Stanford on Sunday.

"I'm hopeful we can move quickly once we start [the] dialogue, but there is no timeframe yet," Luhnow wrote.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander figures to have a chance to move quickly through the Astros' improving Minor League system considering he's 21 years old and about as polished of a college pitcher as you'll find.

Appel's decision to return to Stanford after being picked No. 8 overall by Pittsburgh last year, bypassing a $3.8 million bonus, has paid off. He was actually better as a senior than he was as a junior at Stanford, finishing 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA, a .203 batting average against, 130 strikeouts and just 23 walks in 106 1/3 innings this year.

The Astros have signed 17 of their 40 draft picks this season, including five of their top 10. That doesn't include UC-Irvine right-hander Andrew Thurman, who told MLB.com on Friday he had agreed to a deal and would be in Houston on Monday to sign the contract.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.