Mark Appel Attempting Comeback: Before the Jack Leiter hype train and many others, there was Mark Appel. The former first overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft who was selected by the Houston Astros is attempting a comeback with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The top prospect once drew comparisons to Justin Verlander and the Astros passed up on the opportunity of taking Kris Bryant who has had a very successful career in the Major League.
Scouts stated that he had similar issues compared to what Gerrit Cole faced in college. However, scouts believed that he had the arsenal to become a potential ace in the MLB.
In 2012, the Pittsburgh Pirates took him with the 8th overall selection but returned to Stanford, but still went higher in the next draft due to his potential.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case as Appel wasn’t even on the team when the Houston Astros won the World Series in 2017.
He initially stepped away from baseball to pursue a career in business three years ago. He is attempting a comeback with the team that traded for him in a seven-player trade which sent Ken Giles and Jonathan Arauz to the Astros in exchange for pitchers Thomas Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer, Vince Velaquez, Harold Arauz, and him.
He is set to join the Phillies’ minor league camp as he is currently in quarantine until the camp opens this week in Florida.
Appel felt the need to pursue his dream one last time. He stated in an interview, “I think that ate at me while I was playing, much more than it’s eaten at me since then… “I think I’ve made peace with who I am, what’s happened in my life, what’s happened in my career, and still have a lot of joy about where I’m going. … I’m here because I’m playing for the love of the game.”
WHAT HAS APPEL BEEN DOING AFTER STEPPING AWAY FROM THE GAME
Appel pursued his business career after he announced he was stepping away from the game indefinitely. The Astros paid him 6.35 million in bonuses due to where he was selected in the draft, which most likely jump-started his business aspirations.
Appel stayed in the sports industry by working for a firm that provides loans for athletes with loans early in their career to avoid any problems in regards to the financial aspect if the player gets injured or doesn’t succeed in their profession.
He also invested in a sandwich shop in his hometown in Houston. He has also been supporting his college teammate Stephen Piscotty whenever the Oakland Athletics played at Minute Maid Park.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM HIM MOVING FORWARD
Mark Appel only pitched in only 12 innings combined in the majors. The Philadelphia Phillies made some moves in the bullpen this offseason but couldn’t go after the big names in free agency because they spent a lot of money last offseason and brought back star catcher JT Realmuto on a five-year deal worth 115.5 million dollars.
If Appel can mimic the velocity and movement in his pitches to somewhat he showed on Team USA, then he should have a legitimate shot to make the roster at some point as COVID or other injuries could be a factor.
The Phillies had the 4th worst ERA (5.14) in the shortened season. In 2019, the team was 17th in that category (4.53) which is not where an organization wants to be especially with a very high payroll going into the 2021 season.
If Appel does everything right, maybe he could get a September Call-up or sooner depending on the situation as we have seen pitchers like Rich Hill make amazing comebacks.