Appel draws Gerrit Cole comparison

Stanford right-hander Mark Appel has the look of a guy ready to start his pro career soon. Larry Goren/AP Photo

It was a mixed bag at best this weekend for MLB draft's 2013 class. The No. 1 player in the class faced a tough challenge in a Pac-12 rival, two former top pick challengers continued to slip and an injury to a toolsy outfielder could affect where -- and if -- he's drafted in the first-round.


I was in Eugene this weekend to check out Mark Appel and Stanford take on Oregon. Appel was solid, giving up eight hits and two runs in 8 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out nine. Appel's command wasn't perfect, but his stuff was solid and he kept the ball down, giving up just one fly ball out the entire game.

"This sort of reminds me of what (Pittsburgh Pirates prospect and 2011 No. 1 pick) Gerrit Cole went through his junior year," a scout told me after the game. "I wouldn't say he's bored, but I see a kid who's ready to start his big-league career. He's not piling up the strikeouts, but he's getting ground balls and he's throwing strikes. You could do much worse."

• Last week, Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea was able to pitch despite some hip trouble, but he had his start scratched this week. Manaea's people are saying it's simply precautionary, but it's now the second outing to be changed in three weeks. The Sycamores' ace still has a great shot going in the top five, but his health will be a must-watch over the next month.

Ryne Stanek hasn't had any health concerns, but any momentum the Arkansas' right-hander had was diminished on Saturday against Georgia. Stanek went 6 2/3 innings, giving up only one run on seven hits while striking out and walking three.

"I've seen some bad [Stanek] starts this year, but this one takes the cake," an AL Central scout said. "None of his pitches even flashed plus in the first three innings, and the command was once again well-below average. I thought he'd challenge Appel at the beginning of the year, but there's no way I'd take him in the first 15 picks right now. If you do, you're betting on the Stanek of [last] summer, and that's a bad bet."

• It was also another mediocre outing for Jacksonville right-hander Chris Anderson, which has become an unfortunate trend. The Dolphins' right-hander gave up four earned runs in his 6 2/3 innings of work, walking four and striking out just three. At one point Anderson looked like a top-10 pick, but most teams I have talked to see him as a late Day One pick right now.

• UC-Irvine's Andrew Thurman didn't have his best statistical game of the year, giving up 11 hits and three earned runs over 7 2/3 innings in his start against UC-Davis. But the line doesn't tell the complete story. Thurman got 13 ground ball outs, and the subpar Anteaters' defense did him no favors.

"People use the phrase 'pitchability' a lot, and Thurman has it," an NL scout said. "He's not going to be an ace, but he knows how to keep hitters off balance, and he's going to keep you in ballgames. Normally, that's how I'd describe an early Day Two guy. But this year? That should probably go in the first round."


• In addition to Appel, I was also able to see Stanford outfielder Austin Wilson, who has worked his way back into high-pick consideration after missing six weeks with a stress reaction in his right elbow. Wilson wasn't great, going a combined 2-for-9 on Friday and Saturday, but he took two solid sessions of batting practice that showed why many think so highly of him.

"The timing didn't look like it was there yet," an AL West scout said. "But I think it's getting close. I don't think he's going in the top 10 anymore, but his athleticism is matched by very few, if any, in the college game right now. Someone is going to get a potential steal."

• Austin Meadows' regular season is over, and it ended as it began, with the Grayson (Ga.) High School outfielder hitting the ball with authority. In his showdown with Parkview HS, Meadows went 2-for-4 with two doubles, and finished his season with a .554/.655/.944 line. It's just a matter of where -- not if -- the left-handed hitting outfielder goes in the top half of the first round.

• North Carolina third basemanColin Moran has been hitting everything thrown his way for over two months, but he hadn't faced a lefty the quality of N.C. State ace Carlos Rodon, the early prohibitive favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. Moran didn't have the best game against the southpaw, going 1-for-4 with a walk, and the hit was an infield single.

"He didn't look great against [Rodon]," an AL scout said. "But lots of people don't look good against Rodon. I think Moran's going to handle left-handed pitching fine at the next level. There might be a split, but I don't think he'll be a platoon player."

Ryan Boldt's Red Wing (Minn.) High School season didn't get started until the end of April thanks to Minnesota's less-than-ideal spring weather, and now his season might be in peril.

Boldt injured his right knee in the first game of a season-opening doubleheader against Farmington High while sliding into third base but remained in the game. In Game 2, however, he appeared to re-injure or cause further damage to the knee, coming down while failing to catch a fly ball. The left-handed hitting outfielder will be evaluated on Monday, although there is no swelling and very little pain, according to Boldt.

"You feel for the kid, but now taking him early is a huge risk," one crosschecker said. "We have so little on him as it is because of [Minnesota's] late start to the season, and now there's a chance he might not play again this season. You're basically basing your scouting reports on what you saw in 2012 and over the summer, and so much can change between then and now. I don't care how many 60s [on the 20-80 scouting scale] the kid might have, that's a risk that I don't know if I would take in the first round."