Mark Appel, drafted No. 1 by the Astros in 2013, won his first MLB call Saturday with the Phillies.
Why is this important: Appel, 30, was one of only three The No. 1 in MLB history chooses to sign with his team but never makes it to the big leagues. He is now off this list after coming to “the show”.
- “Completely overwhelmed” said Call. “I have so many thoughts that I want to share but I can’t find the words, so I’m just going to say this: I’m grateful.”
- The context: Nine years is one long duration. Other 2013 recruits like Kris Bryant (#2), Tim Anderson (#17), Aaron Judge (#32) and Cody Bellinger (#124) have already become superstars.
The backdrop: The Stanford graduate and 2012 National Pitcher of the Year was drafted first overall in 2013 by his hometown Astros, who signed him for $6.35 million.
- He was MLB’s No. 6 pitching prospect in 2014 before Houston traded the often injured and ineffective Appel to the Phillies in 2015.
- In 2018, struggling with inconsistencies, hurts and the Depression, he quit baseball. Three years later, he returned to the Phillies organization, where he excelled as a reliever that season in Triple-A.
- On Saturday, with reliever Connor Brogdon on COVID IL, he finally got the call he’s been waiting for for nearly a decade.
The big picture: Appel was an established college star before injuries derailed his professional career, but two high school recruits who endured similarly long delays offer optimism for his future.
- Matt Bush, the No. 1 pick in 2004, made its debut in 2016 after battling alcoholism. At 36, he is still part of the Rangers bullpen.
- Josh Hamilton, the first pick in 1999, made his debut in 2007 after battling alcoholism and drug addiction. He won the 2010 AL MVP and was a five-time All-Star.
The bottom line: No matter how talented you are, it’s impossible to prove yourself if you never get the chance. Mark Appel finally gets his.