Mark Appel was not just a #1 overall pick, he was THE #1 overall pick. Appel was such a stud at the University of Stanford that he was taken 8th overall by the Pirates in the 2012 draft and only dropped that far because of signability issues. A year later, without the threat of staying in school, the Astro’s took him first overall and signed him for over $6 million dollars. But then things started to go bad.
To be frank, the “cant miss” prospect….missed. He started to struggle in 2014 in High A, and a year later he was considered ONE of the big pieces in the deal that sent Vince Velasquez and four others to the Phillies for Ken Giles and Jonathan Aruaz. But at the time it was Vince Velasquez, Mark Appel, and three others. But the change of scenery didnt help.
The Phillies put him in AAA, not so much because of his minor league success but instead because of his stuff. It didnt translate. Appel pitched to an ERA above 4.5 and in 2018 he announced his retirement. He was considered one of the biggest busts in MLB history, having never reached the majors. HIT THE MUSIC
Appel is now 29 years old, and will turn 30 in July. And while it may seem like this is a waste of time, its not. We’ve seen recently similar stories of former #1 overall picks who lost their way and were able to, after stepping away from the game, come back and make it to the majors.
Josh Hamilton was a cant miss prospect who was taken #1 overall by the Rays in 1999. A car crash led to addiction problems and he stepped away from the game to get clean. But he had never played above High A when the Cubs took him in the Rule 5 draft (and then promptly traded him to the Reds.) He made his major league debut at 26 and made an immediate impact for Cincinnati.
Matt Bush was the #1 overall pick by the Padres in 2004. He was drafted as a short stop, and that’s what he had in baseball….a short stop. Arrests, a hit and run, and four organizations who he didn’t perform for and he was done at the age of 25. But after getting released from prison he had a try out in the parking lot of the restaurant he was working at at the time and the Rangers signed him. He made his debut at the age of 30 pitching in relief for the Rangers. And if he were in the Phillies bullpen last year he probably wouldve been their best pitcher.
Appel no doubt has an uphill climb ahead of him. But he said when he retired that he lost the love of the game. If hes regained it, and gotten his mind right, the Phillies could have the starter theyve long been looking for to insert in their rotation.