Nine years after being taken No. 1 overall by the Astors, Mark Appel finally got his first MLB call-up with the Phillies on Saturday and will likely make his debut this week at the age of 30.
The top pick from the 2013 draft has floated around in limbo on several teams and has battled multiple surgeries that threatened his career. He even quit altogether in 2018 when he found out he needed shoulder surgery. Instead, he briefly quit baseball but did opt to have the surgery in case he changed his mind about playing in the big leagues again.
Appel transitioned from a starter to a reliever in Triple-A and has pitched well to the tune of a 1.61 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 28 innings.
This resulted in a call to the big show in Philadelphia.Mark Appel throws a pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies during spring trainingGetty Images
“You obviously have this dream of getting to the big leagues, but for me, this is just like gravy,” Appel said after arriving with the Phillies. “All the other stuff was taken care of. I didn’t need for this to happen this year for me to feel like it was a successful year. All of this is gravy. I’m just soaking it all in. It’s awesome.”
Appel really struggled last season (6.06 ERA) as a starter.
When asked about nearly becoming the third No. 1 pick to never reach the big leagues, Appel said, “I don’t think about it too often. I’ve been at peace with my career for a long time now, probably since 2018, when I left. I made that decision knowing I may never play again. Honestly. It’s like there’s no guarantee the Phillies would even want me back.
“Who knows if I could even get healthy? So many things. So I’ve been at peace with who I am in my career. And it’s like, if I got to the big leagues like today, which is crazy, like, that’s all gravy. But if I never did, I was like, I’d still be like a pretty happy guy.”