The first overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft was Mark Appel, and he got a $6.35 million signing bonus from the Houston Astros coming off an outstanding senior year at Stanford. He was expected to run through the minors quickly and make an impact in the majors for years.
Instead, he never got further than Triple-A and he's retiring from baseball. He revealed as much in a story on Bleacher Report on Thursday. It's a thoroughly reported story that's well worth the read for those interested.
Appel, 26, didn't close the door on a possible return, but noted he has plans to enter the business world, through an internship in "private equity or business" while also looking to apply to some highly regarded business schools, such as Harvard, Northwestern or even a return to Stanford.
Given that and his signing bonus, we probably don't need to feel too sorry for Appel the human being. He's going to be just fine and he's probably going to be a very successful business man, if I had to guess.
Still, Appel the baseball player had quite the fall from grace in terms of how he fared as the top pick and it's notable to mention. Unless he makes a return and gets to the majors, he'll join Brien Taylor (1991 Yankees) and Steve Chilcott (1966 Mets) as the only No. 1 overall picks to never make the big leagues. Matt Bush looked like he would join the list, but he made the Rangers in 2016, 12 years after being taken ahead of Justin Verlander.
Appel was also taken above a huge name. The second pick in 2013 was Kris Bryant, who already has a Rookie of the Year, MVP and World Series ring. The third pick was Jon Gray, who already has 319 innings in the regular season and one playoff start under his belt.
To be fair, Appel battled injuries often in his pro career.
Still, he worked 375 1/3 career innings, pitching to a 5.06 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. Walks were an issue, as was consistency and he just never missed bats like he was expected to. Nothing really worked.
As for the Astros botching that No. 1 pick, no worries there. They are the defending World Series champs (and also used Appel as part of a package to acquire Ken Giles via trade). To miss like that on the top pick and still win it all is actually a feather in their cap -- especially given that all 30 teams would likely have taken Appel first in that draft.
Appel's story is mostly just how unpredictable the world of baseball scouting and development can be.