Mark Appel’s long-awaited MLB debut is one of the best moments of the season
Former first-overall draft pick Mark Appel makes MLB debut with Philadelphia Phillies
In a week full of terrible news and bad losses for the Philadelphia Phillies, Mark Appel’s long-awaited big-league debut was an oasis in the desert, a lone star in a dark sky, the eye of the hurricane.
After almost a decade of the highest highs – being the first overall pick in the 2013 draft – and the lowest lows – getting traded, hurt, designated for assignment, walking away, and coming back, all while bearing the label of ‘biggest draft bust ever’ – Appel had finally done what only 10% of minor leaguers will do. He made it to the show.
The Phillies called up Appel over the weekend while they were in San Diego, but he didn’t take the mound until Wednesday night in Philadelphia. That he debuted at home, in front of thousands of fans who were rooting for him, only adds to the magic of the moment. (We’ll ignore the fact that the Phillies were down 4-1 at the time and would go on to lose.)
The minor league life is hard, even for a first-overall pick who signs for millions. There’s grueling travel, strenuous training, and the knowledge that only a select few will reach the top, to say nothing of playing the game itself. Factor in the pressure of being the first-overall pick, and it’s safe to assume Appel has carried a heavy burden for a long time.
However, over the years, he’s amassed droves of supporters, and what’s drawn fans from all over the league is his perspective. Appel has become known for his inspirational, motivational Twitter threads, in which he often talks about his career and his faith.
On Wednesday morning, he posted another one. Here’s an excerpt:
"“I’m a Philadelphia Phillie and it still doesn’t feel real…this isn’t *just* a story of perseverance through the ups and downs.It’s a story of something once dead being brought back to life…Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of playing in the MLB.”"
Most minor leaguers will never do what Appel did on Wednesday night. Most walk away or are sent packing, not given the choice to keep trying for so many years. But what’s so admirable is that they all come into the draft knowing the odds are stacked against them, and yet they decide to try anyway. There is something poignantly beautiful in that.
On Wednesday night, Mark Appel came full circle. We were all just lucky to be along for the ride.