The KC Royals picked up one of their best-ever pitchers in the 1987 draft.
The player everyone wanted going into the 1987 draft was Ken Griffey Jr. He didn’t last long—the Mariners took him with the first overall selection—but Kansas City did just fine. Choosing eight slots later, the Royals picked pitcher Kevin Appier and never looked back.
The righthander made it to Kansas City for six games two years later, then established himself in the Royal rotation by going 12-8 with a 2.76 ERA in 1990—he tied Tom Gordon for the most wins on the staff (Steve Farr led with 13), but had the best ERA among regular starters.
Appier and Bret Saberhagen paced the club with 13 wins apiece in ’91, and Appier’s 15 victories in ’92 and 18 in ’93 were also the club’s best. He led KC in wins (15) again in 1995, his only All-Star season.
The next was his last full good year in Kansas City (14-11, 3.62) before the club traded him to Oakland in 1999 when he was 9-9 in July.
Appier spent 2000 with the A’s, 2001 with the Mets and 2002 with the Angels and went 40-33. He returned to the Royals in 2003 and 2004, but injury issues limited him to six games and a 1-3 record. He didn’t pitch in the majors again and finished 169-137 with a 3.74 ERA.
The Royals inducted Appier into their Hall of Fame in 2011, an honor truly deserved considering his place among the club’s all-time pitching leaders. He ranks first in WAR (47.1) and strikeouts (1,458), and fourth in wins (115), innings pitched (1,843.2), starts (275), batters faced (7,688) and ERA+ (130).
The Royals will add to their list of ninth overall draft selections Sunday evening.