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Appel rejects Pirates, could land with Cubs

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs had a 3-hour, 40-minute rain delay Friday, but the news did actually get better.

Not only did they defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks to open the second half by riding the wave of two Alfonso Soriano home runs, they also found out that one of the best pitchers in this year’s draft could end up falling into their hands next year.

At Friday’s deadline, Stanford pitcher Mark Appel did not agree to a reported $3.8 million offer as the No. 8 overall selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The offer was just under the $3.9 million the Cubs gave to No. 6 overall selection Albert Almora, a high-school outfielder out of Florida.

Appel will now return to Stanford for his senior season and many baseball analysts are saying that while it is early, Appel is currently projected to be the No. 1 pick next June.

The Pirates will now get an extra selection in next year’s draft, but it’s the Cubs who could end up with the well-regarded right-hander depending on how things work out the remainder of this season.

The Cubs did not start the second half with the worst record in baseball. That distinction belonged to the Houston Astros at 33-53. But the Cubs were just a half of a game better, tied with the San Diego Padres.

If the Cubs end up trading guys like Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza they could wind up with the No. 1 overall pick next season.

Early projections are that the 2013 draft class won’t be better than the 2012 class, which was considered just average. Assuming that Appel continues to progress as a pitcher, he may end up being one of the rare standouts in that 2013 class.