The Phillies need to finally call up former first-overall pick Mark Appel

Mark Appel #66 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Mark Appel #66 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

It’s time for the Philadelphia Phillies to call up Mark Appel

For years, Mark Appel has shouldered the burden of being known as the “biggest bust in MLB history.”

In 2013, he was the Houston Astros’ first-overall pick in a star-studded draft class that included Kris Bryant, Tim Anderson, J.P. Crawford, Aaron Judge, and Cody Bellinger. The following summer, Sports Illustrated predicted that the Astros would win the World Series by 2017, led by two of their top prospects, Appel and a young shortstop named Carlos Correa.

The article was half-right.

Appel was supposed to skyrocket through the minors and debut within a year or two of being drafted. Instead, he shuffled around the farm system until December 2015, when the Astros traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Vince Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer, Tom Eshelman, and Harold Arauz, in exchange for Ken Giles and Jonathan Araúz.

By November 2017, the Phillies had designated Appel for assignment, and by February 2018, he announced that he was taking an ‘indefinite break’ from baseball. At 26 years old, he’d been in the minor leagues for five seasons. Some of his former fellow prospects had World Series rings; he hadn’t even made his debut. He was labeled the biggest draft bust, the third first-overall pick in MLB history to never make it to the show.

Not so fast, though, as Appel returned in March 2021 to give the game another go. His first season back wasn’t pretty; working as both a starter and reliever he posted a 6.18 ERA over 23 games between Double and Triple-A.

This year, however, Appel is trying something new, and it’s really paying off. Working solely out of the bullpen, he has a 1.67 ERA over 18 relief appearances for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. With six games finished and five saves, it looks like he’s finally figured out his way to the majors. It couldn’t come at a better time for the big-league club, as Jeurys Familia and Corey Knebel are both struggling. The Phillies need to call him up.

Finally, the stars are aligning. The Phillies need bullpen help and Appel is their best in-house option. He’s put in the work and earned a second chance at a first impression. At this point, the debut that once felt impossible now looks inevitable.

Update: Phillies call up Mark Appel

With Connor Brogdon going on the COVID-related Injured List, the Phillies are calling up Mark Appel. Congratulations!