Mark Appel makes his MLB debut nine years after being No. 1 1 pick

It’s always worth noting when No. 1 overall pick in the draft makes his major league debut. But when Mark Appel took over the mound for the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night, it was no ordinary tale of a phenom launching a career with hope for years of greatness ahead.

Apple will turn 31 in two weeks. And within three seasons, he dropped out of baseball completely, his budding major league career seemingly over before it even began.

A good high school player in Northern California, Appel quickly developed at Stanford, becoming the top pitcher in the NCAA. He was talked about as the talent of a generation with the ability to change the franchise.

It is expected to go No. No. 1 in the 2012 draft, the demands of his contract scared off some teams, and he lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates at No. 1. 8. Instead of signing for much less than he thought he was worth, he decided to return to college and had another stellar season for the Cardinal.

The next year, things seemed to improve. The team he rooted for, the Houston Astros took it with the best overall pick and gave him a $6 million signing bonus. He looked promising and there were rumors that he could be in the big leagues by the end of this season.

Instead, another nine painful years passed.

Reliable prospects usually go through the minors, but Appel struggled. He consistently fielded over four, five or more ERAs and struggled with injuries. A deal with the Phillies at the end of 2015 did not improve the situation, and in 2017 he suffered a serious shoulder injury. The following year, at the age of 26, he is “physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted,” he later said. he left the game. Later that year, he underwent shoulder surgery.

After three full seasons without baseball, Appel began a comeback with the Phillies in 2021. His first year in the minors was not easy, and in twitter last september, he spoke about his difficult road back, admitting that he was called “the biggest flop in MLB history.” He said that he had been battling depression and that in 2014 “after a series of terrible games, I broke down and broke down the dressing room wall.”

This spring, things finally converged with the AAA class Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He started the season 5–0 with a 1.61 ERA in 19 assist appearances. That was enough for him to earn his first call, which came on Saturday.

After several days of waiting, with Philadelphia playing several close games, Appel entered the ninth inning on Wednesday with the team three points behind. He refused one hit at zero opportunity, delivering a nasty sinker at 94 to 97 miles per hour.

“I feel like a renewed arsenal this year” he said on MLB TV after the game. “I made some mechanical changes. The fastball grip has changed, the hand movement has changed, and I think at the beginning of the season I’m like, “Throw, I throw pretty hard, and the ball kind of moves.”

He added: “I knew I was going to have fun this year, no matter the results, so the opportunity is way beyond what I could have imagined when I came to spring training.”

While there is more uncertainty about drafting in baseball than in some other sports, it doesn’t. 1 overall pick usually makes majors. Many, such as Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Chipper Jones, have gone on to become superstars. And in recent years, Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole and Carlos Correa have more than justified their election to the top spot. one.

Going back to the creation of the draft in 1965, there are now only four No. 1 overall pick who never played in the big leagues: Steve Chilcott (catcher, drafted by the Mets in 1966); Brian Taylor (pitcher, 1991 Yankees), Brady Aiken (pitcher, Astros, 2014) and Henry Davis, a Pirates catcher who was drafted last year and should be on the field soon.

“I came into this year knowing that every day could be my last.” Appel said after Wednesday’s game. “Truth be told, I was at a point where I was still trying to figure out what my role was – pitcher, starter – if I still had the strength to put in good numbers and stuff like that.

“So if every day was to be my last, I would enjoy it. And I really enjoyed tonight.”