Appel, 21, went 10-4 with four complete games and a 2.12 ERA (25ER/106.1IP) as a senior this season at Stanford University. He recorded 130 strikeouts in his 106.1 innings pitched and allowed just a .203 opponent's batting average. Appel is one of just 10 semifinalists for the National Pitcher of the Year Award as named by the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
"Drafting and signing Mark Appel was a top priority for our organization this year," Luhnow said. " We are an organization focused on winning championships in the future and we expect Mark to be a big part of that effort."
Appel finished his Stanford career as the program's all-time strikeout leader and his 372 career strikeouts rank second among active NCAA hurlers. The Pac-12 Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year this season is sixth in program history with 28 career wins and fourth with 377.2 innings pitched.
Appel grew up an Astros fan in West Houston before moving to California at the age of 12. He played his youth ball at the Post Oak Little League and attended Astros games at the Astrodome and Minute Maid Park. Most of Appel's extended family lives in the Houston-area, including his parents.
Appel becomes the third right-handed pitcher selected first overall in the draft in the last five years, joining Gerrit Cole (2011-PIT) and Stephen Strasburg (2009-WSH). He is also the third right-handed pitcher taken by Houston in the first round in the last five years, a list that also includes Lance McCullers (2012-supplemental) and Mike Foltynewicz (2010).
"Mark has been one of the premier talents in college baseball for the past few years, and he cemented that status this spring with his best season yet," Elias said. "He possesses a bulldog mentality, an ideal pitcher's frame, an elite track record, and he commands three plus pitches - everything we look for in a pitcher. We feel the potential is there for him to become a mainstay at the very forefront of our rotation for a long time."
The Astros have signed 23 of their 40 draft picks this season, including seven of their top 10.