Mark Appel is finally set to realise his dream of playing in the MLB. He’s been drafted three times and spent four years away from the sport, but the Philadelphia Phillies have called up the right-handed pitcher after Connor Brogdan contracted Covid-19.
Some may be quick to suggest that the decision to bring the thirty-year-old into the reckoning is being made to cause a bit of a buzz. However, with the Phillies having NL Wild Card ambitions, primarily after Joe Girardi was axed, it’s a move that they hope will pay off on the field.
Believe it or not, Appel has been drafted three times when you drill down into the nuts and bolts of things. He was first drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2009 but stayed loyal to Stanford. The same applied again when drafted in 2012 by the Pirates. Finally, in 2013, when the Astros drafted him, he signed on the dotted line.
His time with the Astros began well, with Appel posting a 3.82 ERA and striking out twenty-seven batters. The signs were good, but things started to slide the following year, 2014. From being a dominant pitcher in college with Stanford, Appel quickly became average, and by 2015 it was as if he had lost his shine. He wasn’t even ranked as a decent prospect at the back end of his Astros career, which was telling.
So, with the Astros keen on a parting of ways, Appel was traded to Philadelphia before the 2016 campaign got underway. However, a year later and Appel unofficially retired in 2017. While he never declared publicly that he was retired, he no longer appeared on the Phillies roster and was DFA’d.
It was last year, in 2021, that Appel made his return with the Phillies. And while you could say things carried on where he left off in terms of mediocrity, 2022 has seen the Texas-born dealer turn things around considerably. It’s this that has put him right in the mix and the man to come into the picture to replace Brogdon for the time being.
In terms of what people can expect from Appel moving forward, his trademark fastball-slider combo will prove to be most effective. In addition, he’s made changes to his game, such as switching to a two-pitch pitcher approach, and his commitment to the bullpen is unwavering.
Appel has been on some journey, one that has been loaded with some highs and a lot of lows. But, he’s bounced back, worked hard and now has his chance. The Phillies need him, which is sure to be a determining factor in keeping him on course to achieve his dream of playing in the MLB.
Of course, the work can’t and won’t end there for Appel. There is a lot more for him to achieve, and he must continue to show the grit that has got him to this point. But, you never know, maybe it’s never too late to impact the big leagues.