6:11PM: The Phillies have officially selected Appel’s contract and placed Brogdon on the COVID-IL.
8:10AM: The Phillies announced to reporters, including Matt Gelb of The Athletic, that they are placing right-hander Connor Brogdon on the COVID-related injured list. Taking his place on the roster will be fellow righty Mark Appel.
Whenever Appel gets into a game, it will be his MLB debut, thus concluding one of the more unique journeys to the big leagues. As the Astros were in the midst of a years-long rebuild, they racked up a number of premium draft picks, which they were able to use to select players like George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman. Those players ended up forming a huge part of the core of the team, which would go on to make the playoffs in six out of the past seven seasons and is likely to do so again this year, including the now-controversial 2017 World Series championship. One that didn’t quite go as planned for the club, however, was the selection of Appel with the first overall draft pick in 2013.
Appel had actually been selected twice before but wasn’t signed. The Tigers selected him out of high school in the 15th round back in 2009, though Appel wound up going to Stanford instead. By the time 2012 rolled around, Appel was seen as the top talent in the draft, but he came with signability concerns. The Pirates selected him eighth overall but Appel indeed returned to Stanford. Once drafted and signed by the Astros, Appel was instantly considered one of the top prospects in the game, with Baseball America ranking him #39 in 2014 and then #31 in 2015. However, Appel’s numbers seemed to slip as he reached the higher levels of the minors. In 2015, between Double-A and Triple-A, his ERA came in at a middling 4.37, along with a strikeout rate of just 19.1% and walk rate of 8.9%. On the heels of that season, the Astros traded Appel and four other prospects to the Phillies for Ken Giles and Jonathan Arauz.
The change of scenery didn’t seem to help much, as Appel dealt with injuries and underperformance in the Phillies’ organization. He was selected to the club’s 40-man roster prior to the 2017 season but was designated for assignment and outrighted at the end of that campaign. In February of 2018, Appel decided to step away from baseball, opening up about his decision in a candid interview. However, in March of last year, it was reported that Appel was attempting a comeback attempt, after missing three entire seasons.
In 2021, Appel split his time between Double-A and Triple-A, throwing 71 1/3 innings. He managed just a 6.06 ERA, though some rust would certainly be understandable after such a long layoff. He started 15 of his 23 appearances last year but has switched over to relief entirely in 2022, with much improved results. In 19 Triple-A appearances this season, he’s thrown 28 frames with a 1.61 ERA, along with a 21.8% strikeout rate, 7.3% walk rate and 47.3% ground ball rate. Based on that performance, he’s now getting the call he’s waited so long to receive.
In spite of all the twists and turns on that journey, Appel is now just 30 years old, turning 31 in about three weeks. This selection to the big league roster is a testament to his determination and perseverance. The hurler himself took to Twitter and attempted to sum up his feelings on this incredible day. “Completely overwhelmed. I have so many thoughts I want to share but can’t find the words, so I’ll just say this: I’m thankful. Today, I get to play a game I love as a Major League Baseball player.”
Good for him, congratulations Mark!
I’m happy for him. According to reports in AAA, his slider looks great again that’s his out pitch.
Superstar Prospect Wander Javier
Surface level stats look good in AAA, but the peripherals don’t. Hope the best for him though.
@Wander- Peripherals don’t look good? I’d argue they look good. While they certainly are not great, he’s not walking people, not giving up hits, and he’s inducing a high rate of GB. Sure, he has a low K rate, but his FIP is 3.87 and xFIP is 4.18. Only 4 of 20 teams in the International League have a better ERA than Appel’s xFIP.
What an incredible story. Good for him
Crab L. Winston
No knock on Appel at all but I’m still shocked the Astros passed on Kris Bryant 1-1 that year. He put up incredible offensive numbers at San Diego during a period when the offense in college baseball was down based upon what they were doing to the bats and balls.
They wanted to save bonus money (Bryant signed for more than Appel) and probably felt as though a polished college pitcher would be safer after drafting a high school shortstop the previous year with the first pick.
A polished college pitcher would be safer than a polished college hitter? I don’t think that was their thought, or the thought of any MLB team.
Actually, more people were surprised Bryant went 2 in the other direction. According to most “draft experts” at the time, the top two picks should have been Appel and Jon Gray with Kris Bryant as the third choice. The Cubs shocked a lot of people picking Bryant over Gray. I know it shocked the Rockies and probably played a big part in them wanting to sign KB for big bucks this offseason.
What was Mel Kipers take on it? (I jest, lol)
Kiper was still in the box that ESPN keeps him in until they let him out about a month before the NFL draft, so he had no comment.
C Yards Jeff
@Crab L Winston: that makes 2 of you. Mike Elias is still shocked as well. Coming up on selecting his 4th draft class with the Orioles, the earliest round he has drafted a pitcher to date is the 5th.
At least he didn’t sign with the Pirates. That would have really set back his development.
Well as soon as the pirates traded him away his career would have taken off
From uber prospect to uber flop, and now he arrives at 30 as a reliever and a great comeback story. The Phillies can certainly use another quality arm out in the pen.
Not even remotely the same story, but I do see a few pieces that remind me somewhat of Andrew Miller. I hope he can become an incredible reliever, or perhaps even lockdown closer as Miller did after things didn’t pan out as potentially.
C Yards Jeff
The O’s had 2 Uber starter prospects in their recent history that didn’t pan out either. Jim Johnson and Zack Britton. Both rebounded when given the opportunity to relieve. Both were significant contributors to that 5 year run of success the Birds had in the early to mid 2010s. And Zack, healing from TJ injury, could be huge once again for the Yanks. Way to persevere MA. May your career flourish as a reliever resulting in bringing needed help to the Phillies.
Yeah, Andrew Miller did come to my mind after reading the comment above as well..
Then again, it’s alot more prevalent now to have failed starters become versatile, highly effective weapons for a team’s pen.
Other than some college relievers that just shoot through the minor league ranks in a couple seasons or so; in fact, now, there are a plethora of guys that team’s use at the backend of games who were once used as starters…
I’ve noticed with the Braves, they will take their most talented arms, attempt to stretch them out as starters and/or add at least a third pitch to their arsenal, give them multiple chances to succeed, and then if they’re unable to make it to the show as an effective starter, they will work them out of the bullpen in shorter stints, and having them focus on trying to get the best out of their stuff, since they don’t have to worry about going through the order multiple times, or saving their stamina, etc. It is very common for pitching coaches to then have these pitchers see an increase in velo, they will typically have them shorten their arsenal dropping a pitch or two that might not be getting good results consistently enough, and they will also have them increase or decrease their pitch usage of certain pitches, sometimes in extreme cases like Matt Wisler and the Rays going from a measly percentage of throwing sliders to throwing almost exclusively sliders…
Brogdon is one of 2 bullpen pieces I actually trust. So losing him sucks, but it’s Appel time.
Hopefully a short-term stay on the Covid IL. Some players are off within days, others a couple weeks. I’m actually dealing with Covid right now and on day 5 I’d describe it as annoyingly resilient.
Covid sucks man. Even if you don’t get the strain that knocks you out, it just stays and stays and makes you wanna blast your head even though you’re not dealing with awful symptoms. Feel better mate!
Appreciated. Yes it’s entirely too comfortable sticking around in my body!
Feel bette4, LordD.
Thanks. I’m trying!
L99: Fell better brother. Prayers for you…Covid hospitalized me, so I get it…and I’m young (relatively). What a terrible, terrible disease, man. I hope you whoop it like the Yankees on, well, whoever their opponent is, but especially the Astros.
I had covid last Christmas, but I was lucky to only have mild symptons.
I hope Appel pitches well for you and the rest of the Phils fans, Von. As much as I hate the Phillies, Appel is a great story.
The Phils are proving to be a nice landing spot for redemption stories. I’d say that over the past decade the two biggest draft busts coming into 2022 were Appel and Moniak. Suddenly they’re useful players who hopefully end up with a bigger role as they get deeper into the season. I’m rooting for both!
Moniak hasn’t hit in the majors and was sent down. His redemption story never happened and seems unlikely.
Yeah, Moniak’s story was a three week illusion against third rate pitching during an abbreviated spring training. That former #1 pick is on his way being DFA’d this November.
Kudos for Jeff Lunhow and Mike Elias drafting him 1/1 in 2013 … NOT.
Zachary D Manprin
Is it 1991?
ouch, it still hurts the Astros passed up Bryant for him, it still hurts,
Since the Astros don’t dish out big contracts often, Bryant would probably be gone anyways.
Enjoy every moment of this cup of coffee.
Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time
vincent k. mcmahon
He’s looked good at AAA…hopefully Brogdon’s stay on the COVID list is short and this is a prelude to DFA Familia.
I’ll second that motion. This season there’s no telling what you’ll get when Familia comes into a game, but odds are it will make you cringe/scream/turn off the game, etc
Familia is “Scare-us Neris” v2.0
Familia is Neris but the fear in question is more justified.
As a Met fan loved it when Familia landed with Philly. Watching him pitch is excruciating. Every batter 2-0 count to start, most first batters get walked. Most second batters get to 3-0. He’s terrible. No idea how to pitch, no control.
Something tells me Appel’s time with the Phils will be comparable to Ryan Webber’s with the Yankees.
I personally hope he gets blown up in his first game & disappears, never to be heard from again. He let an overinflated ego & greed get the best of him a long time ago, when he may have been at his peak. Going to the Pirates, into their system, wouldn’t have been all that bad. He wouldn’t have made big money, but if he did well would end up with the Yankees, Dodgers, or another deep pocket team.
But staying that extra year at Stanford, making $0, set him back forever. Serves him right, now go get shelled for Philly & get DFA’d. Probably get picked up on waivers by the Pirates, that’d be pure poetic justice!
Well you suck
You do realize that people can grown and mature, right? Sure, he played the draft game long ago, probably at the behest of his agent, but it’s quite evident he’s been humbled.
And it’s not like he had to “grow and mature”. He made the correct decision and ended up going first overall and making more money than he otherwise would have. That is something that is pretty dumb to hold against him.
Not to mention the Pirates were so bad at developing pitchers , you can’t blame him for not wanting any part of it.
“overinflated ego & greed get the best of him a long time ago, when he may have been at his peak”
yup sounds like a appel product to me. thats why i go for android.
dcahen rooting for failure is always a sign of maturity…oh wait
Did Appel hurt your puppy? This is an awful, angry take.
You must be a hoot at parties……?
What a nasty post by you..life must really suck in your world..
I for one hope he is a come back story for this year..
Dumpster Divin Theo
How do you really feel? Don’t hold back
Lee Mazzilli for HOF
Did he pass you off in someway? It is obvious he wasn’t ready for the bright lights of stardom and pressure to the bigs. Got his crap together and going for it. Let’s be honest if you can avoid the pirates why wouldn’t you?
Dcahen: Although I understand your response to his squandered opportunity, I look at it this way: We all made mistakes, to varying degrees, when we were young. Mistakes that if we could change would enrich our lives tenfold. That’s why we tell other to avoid the same mistakes. He made his and it cost him dearly. He paid for his ego with his career, for the most part. He will never make what his max potential could’ve been.
I look at this very similarly to the story of the Prodigal Son. He probably knows he blew it. If he doesn’t and repeats the mistakes he made (ego-driven decisions) he will end up in the same way.
But, staying at college could’ve had more to do with family influence (parents) than simply ego. There could be other personal reasons why he stayed there. His parents may have advised him *not* to be impulsive and jump into the Bigs, but to wait and maximize his value (that’s what I would tell my son).
Can’t fault him for that, brother.
FINALLY. So happy for Mark and proud of him. What a journey.
Love to see these stories. Good luck young man
This is one of the more unlikely comeback stories for a 1-1, but not the MOST unlikely. That honor still goes to Matt Bush. The shortstop that went to prison as a minor leaguer for years and came out as a pretty successful big league relief pitcher.
@dcahen. On your post. It made me wonder which is worse. Deep pocket clubs that spend money. Or teams that make money every year. And just refuse to spend money?
Wow. He finally made it.
Kind of makes you think about another top SP pick for the Astros who as of now has not panned out. Maybe they should turn him into a RP and he would soar through their system.
Forrest Whitley. Throws 100 with a wipeout slider but cannot put it together as a SP. Might be onto something here if they turn him into a reliever.
Whitley just came back from Tommy John.
So whatever happened to Brady Aiken? He was the third of Houston’s infamous tanking #1s. I know he got picked by Cleveland the next year after he didn’t sign. They released him last year. Is he done now?
hiflew……….Still in free agent limbo
Almost every team tanks at some point.
Not even close to true. Not the way Houston did anyway.
The Cubs did it and the Phillies did it.
The Cubs couldn’t sustain winning and the Phillies never did.
Fact: Most rebuilds fail.
Luhnow built the best organization in MLB.
Neither team did it the same way as the Astros. The Astros traded away everyone that could even qualify as a real major league player. They became a AAA team. The Cubs and Phillies at least kept a few vets to make it look competitive.
Awesome. So stoked for him.
Ƭ̵̬̊ Player Formly Known As MousecopƬ̵̬̊
Honestly thought he was fully retired after stepping away from baseball. That was like 7 or 8 years ago. Maybe longer.
God willing this youngster can show enough to replace that God awful famila.
Congrats Mark. And anyone who dogs the guy is either a moron or a straight up POS! We all have goals in life and even though most of ours are much smaller, they still mean a great deal to us. Can’t imagine the ups and downs this kid has gone through. Here’s to hoping you have a ton of success and stay up longer than just the proverbial cup of coffee!
Always love his business-mentality, folks.
I know Mark Appel has what it takes to succeed.
Best of luck to Mark Appel!
Back after 9 years.
ORANGE you glad that APPEL finally made it to the bigs?
Just proves that he was a PLUM of a pick that has turned into a PEACH
He certainly is no longer a LEMON
I hope he does just GRAPE
What a PUNishing thing to read,
I wonder if Astros fans to this day still whine about him being a #1 pick bust the way Phillies fans whine about Moniak?
I don’t feel that President Biden is getting the credit he deserved for Appel’s rebound
As an Astros fan, I’ve followed his career since he was drafted. It hasn’t been easy but I think he’s got a lot of life left in the arm. Hopefully working out of the bullpen will allow him to maximize his talents and time left. Best of luck to him.