9 Years After Being The #1 Pick In The MLB Draft, Mark Appel Is Finally Making His MLB Debut In An Incredible Comeback

Mark Appel was a "can't miss" prospect back in 2013 when he was drafted #1 overall by the Houston Astros, one pick ahead of Kris Bryant. He was going to be a multiple time All-Star, probably win a Cy Young or two, and absolutely dominate every time he stepped on the rubber. 

Then it all came crashing down. He struggled in the minors in 2014 (6.91 ERA), couldn't figure it out the next season as well (4.37 ETA in 25 starts between AA and AAA) and then was eventually shipped off to the Phillies in the Ken Giles trade.He couldn't figure it out, couldn't stay healthy between an emergency appendectomy in 2014, shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, bone spurs, he had it all. The Phillies DFA'd him after the 2017 season and that is when Appel decided to step away from baseball due to shoulder pain leading into spring training in 2018. It had to be upsetting and depressing as fuck for Appel to step away from the game simply because he wasn't that good and couldn't stay healthy. This was a guy who was a horse in college and we all assumed would instantly become one of the better pitchers in baseball, it was a wild story to see him not succeed. One of the most highly touted players we'd see in sometime couldn't get the hang of it as a 26 year-old in AAA as a former #1 pick. 

After another surgery, training at Driveline in Seattle, and talking with Phillies GM Ned Rice in 2020 he decided to make a comeback in 2021. He's now a 30 year-old reliever who was LIGHTING UP AAA with a 5-0 record with a 1.61 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 28 innings for the IronPigs. Then after the Padres - Phillies game late last night they announced Appel would finally be getting the call to the bigs, 9 years after he was picked #1 overall. It wasn't the path he thought he'd take, but he still made it.

It's a remarkable comeback, he had everything stacked against him, needed to step away to clear his mind and find himself and now he finds himself in the big leagues. How can you not be happy for a guy like this? It wasn't a self inflicted downfall like we've seen with other guys, it wasn't drugs and alcohol, just injuries over time. But he was determined to get back to his old form, worked his ass off and now is being rewarded and we are seeing his dreams come true. I'm sure he thought this day would never come, he probably thought a few years ago he'd never sniff the bigs, now he's there. It's a fantastic comeback story. A nice little hat tip for Mark Appel today.