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10 Seasons After Being Drafted #1 Overall, Mark Appel Finally Made His Big League Debut

This has been a big story in the baseball world for a long time but has now started to reach into mainstream media so I figured it's worth a nice little op-ed.

 I want to talk to you guys about Mark Appel. The dude finally made his debut and I've been following him for years. One of my first ever hot takes on this blog was that he was a flaming pussy for turning down first round money after his junior year at Stanford. I thought he was quite possibly the biggest chode in baseball history, deriding his time at Stanford as meaningless, etc. In simple terms, I was a huge dick about Mark Appel. 

Quick history lesson - he was one of the best players in the 2012 draft. He had a huge bonus demand and fell to the Pirates 8th overall. He turned down their $4M offer and went back to Stanford. First time that happened in a long time without there being an injury or some major contract situation. Just a college junior not wanting to play for millions, so he went back to Stanford and dominated again. The same time the Cubs were tanking alongside the Astros and Rockies. They ended up having the top 3 picks in the 2013 draft: Astros, Cubs, Rockies. 

The Cubs needed a bat bad, but people said Appel was can't miss. The Astros at the time were in the midst of hitting on Springer and Correa in consecutive 1st rounds. They'd follow that up with Bregman and Kyle Tucker in consecutive 1st rounds. But sandwiched inbetween was the 2013 draft and they ended up taking Mark Appel over Kris Bryant. The Cubs then had a decision to make between Bryant and Jon Gray from Oklahoma. Both fine pros, but obviously we know where the history books go from here. 

Personally, it's a huge day for me because it marks my first blog on Barstool Sports. It was a Cubs draft report and big scouting blog on Kris Bryant and why he's more important than the other pitchers. I remember distinctly telling the internet at my very first opportunity that I was delighted the Astros took Appel because he was soft and didn't want to play. Exaggeration for effect (hyperbole), no doubt. But now 10 seasons later the guy finally makes his debut and I honestly just cannot fucking believe it. 

Great story. Great comeback. The guy stepped away in 2018 at the age of 26 after just not having any success. There's really no other way to put it. Shoulder issues with bone spurs with just bad juju and it's out the door of professional baseball about as soon as he came in. And quite frankly it was long before then that people stopped talking about him. It was borderline sad. How could everyone be so wrong about a Stanford starting pitcher this deep into modern scouting? What were people missing? 

Ask me and I'll tell you - everything you need to know is in that Pirates $4M offer from 2012. Injuries, whatever. There's something about just taking the money and going to pro ball because you're going to be a hall of famer anyways and who cares if it's not the biggest bonus. But that's not how everyone thinks and certainly not Mark Appel. He wasn't that guy. Would it have helped if he was? Most likely but who knows. At this point I'm sure he doesn't really give a fuck. 

But deep down I don't know how much I can celebrate this story. I mean of course, as a guy who loves the game, I'm happy for Mark Appel. But you're telling me you can just go your late 20's without playing baseball then come back for a serious run and be in a big league bullpen a year later? That's so much talent. So much potential. I'd have murdered a close relative for even an opportunity to be that gifted and I mean that shit. But that's me. Just blows me away there are people walking this planet who are that athletic and naturally enabled to be so much better at stuff than the rest of us. Mark Appel was selling software or some shit and then just one day wanted to give it one more run. And now I'm blogging about him as a now-contributing member of the Philadelphia Phillies. By no means did I ever think this day would come. 

We're here though so might as well enjoy it. Here's the book on Appel: 

- mentally weak (or tough depending on how you view the situation)

- 97mph sinker

- 83mph slider

- extremely high groundball rate at AAA (about 50%)

- below average K rate but average average BB rate - not enough to offset the lower K rate though

- probably very nice and kind 

- same first name as my dad

So there you have it. There's the scouting report on Mark Appel. Who knows how long he stays and quite frankly I don't think he cares. At this point it's probably just about proving to himself that he could do it. And on that front, he's absolutely right. He's by far and away good enough to be an MLB pitcher although I don't think there ever really was a doubt. 

Welcome to the big leagues Mark. 10 seasons later you absolutely earned it dude. 

Now go ruin the Mets season. 

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