Mark Appel makes MLB debut 9 years after being drafted No. 1 overall

Mark Appel makes MLB debut 9 years after being drafted No. 1 overall

Few athlete journeys have been more winding than Mark Appel’s.

After nine years of working in the minor leagues, battling shoulder injuries and even quitting the game, the 2013 No. 1 pick made his MLB debut Wednesday at age 30.

The Philadelphia Phillies called Appel out of the bullpen for the ninth inning against the 4-1 down Atlanta Braves. It wasn’t a high-leverage situation in a game that Atlanta ultimately won, but Appel looked great on an MLB mound while allowing just one base runner and keeping the Braves out. of the dashboard. He recorded his first MLB strikeout in the process.

Appel’s first pitch in MLB prompted a lineout at first base by outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Catcher William Contreras then hit a ground ball past shortstop for a single for Appel’s first hit. Then came the moment Appel relished the most. He built a 1-2 count on outfielder Adam Duvall before freezing him with a 97 mph fastball to the outside corner for his first MLB strikeout.

Receiver JT Realmuto threw the ball to a Phillies ballboy to keep it safe. Appel smiled on the mound.

Second baseman Philip Gosselin ended the inning with a groundout, and Appel wrapped up his MLB debut with a hit and no runs while recording one strikeout in a pitched inning. He threw 10 pitches, six of them for strikes. It’s a moment Appel gave up in 2018 when he retired from baseball amid talk that he was “perhaps the biggest bust in MLB history.”

Mark Appel #22 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch high in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on June 29, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Braves beat the Phillies 4-1.  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Mark Appel made his first regular season appearance in an MLB uniform on Wednesday. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Appel’s delayed path to MLB

The Houston Astros selected Appel from Stanford with the No. 1 pick of the 2013 draft. many times. Instead, he spent five seasons working in the miners, producing a 5.06 ERA and 1.52 WHIP.

A diseased shoulder that required surgery in 2016 ultimately prompted Appel to retire from baseball in 2018. He returned to play in 2021 in the Phillies’ minor league system and has spoken about his struggles that included a battle with depression.

He continued to struggle on the mound, producing a 6.06 ERA and 1.612 in 71.1 innings pitched on Double-A and Triple-A in 2021. He found his groove with a 1.93 ERA and .929 WHIP for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 28 innings this season. So when the Phillies needed help in the bullpen, they called Call Saturday.

Four days later, Appel probably got more chances to prove himself with his scoreless inning against the Braves. And he can finally call himself an MLB pitcher.

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