Stanford ace pitcher Mark Appel, a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is reportedly strongly considering returning to the Cardinal and re-entering the draft next year.'s Jon Heyman reported that Appel is "leaning against" signing with the Pirates. The deadline for draft picks to sign with MLB teams is 2 p.m. PT Friday.

Appel, who was drafted by Pittsburgh with the No. 8 overall pick last month, has thus far turned down the Pirates' reported maximum offer of $3.8 million. Due to new MLB draft rules, if Appel signs for more than $3.8 million, the Pirates will be stripped of their 2013 No. 1 pick.

However, if Appel eschews Pittsburgh's offer to stay at Stanford, the Pirates will get the No. 8 overall pick in next year's draft -- in addition to their other 2013 first-round pick.

Appel is one of six first-round picks from the June draft who have yet to sign.

Appel, a former Monte Vista High star, was a second-team All-America team selection after going 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 16 starts for Stanford. The right-hander led the Pac-12 during the regular season with 130 strikeouts in 123 innings.