APPEL BYE: Mark Appel was the only player taken in the first round in June not to sign with an MLB organization. Photo courtesy

Mark Appel won’t be a professional baseball player this year. In fact, he’s the only one taken in the first round of June’s MLB Draft to not sign, becoming the first victim to new league regulations.

Much like the NBA and NFL, Major League Baseball has wanted to tone down some of the ridiculous sums of money young athletes receive before playing a single game. However, THEIR agenda is slightly different.

You see, pro baseball, the only major professional league without a salary cap, had a unique problem. The whole concept of a draft is that the best incoming talent goes to the worst teams. But in baseball, some of the worst teams also happen to be some of the poorest teams, and sometimes the best talent demands signing bonuses a little bit above their pay grade.

So to try and ensure that these guys go to the teams they could help most and not the ones already winning championships, major league baseball put in restrictions on just how high signing bonuses can go in each slot.

The only problem here is it backfired.

You see, the Pirates, who drafted Appel eighth overall, is one of those teams the young pitcher SHOULD have gone to. Appel and his agent — an infamous man named Scott Boras — thought he deserved more money than the eighth overall slot would allow a team to pay him. And Pittsburgh was inclined to agree, which is why they ended up offering him as much as $900,000 more knowing full well there would be a penalty to pay if they were successful.

But Boras and Appel decided that $3.8 million wasn’t enough and the Pirates weren’t willing to go higher as their seriousness of penalties imposed against them would’ve increased. The end result is Appel returning to Stanford for another year of college ball.

Also complicating the negotiation process was the signing deadline which came about a month earlier than it did last year thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was ratified this past offseason. The Pirates needed to get Appel to give them his John Hancock by 5:00 P.M. yesterday. Obviously this didn’t happen.

Appel’s signability issues were well known before the draft though. The 20-year-old was projected by many experts to go first overall. But he slid down the board with his financial demands more than likely being the main culprit.

Not only that, but this is the SECOND time Appel has walked away from an MLB team. Back in 2009, the Detroit Tigers failed to sign him after drafting him in the fifteenth round as a recent high school graduate.

That means when Appel reenters the draft next spring he will be taken by his THIRD professional baseball organization and the most recent failure appears to be at the hands of rules that were actually put in place to help ensure struggling organizations like Pittsburgh signed and developed Appel in their farm system.

NOTE: This story was originally posted on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
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