The Phillies are calling up former number one overall pick Mark Appel, they told reporters Friday night and Appel confirmed the news on social media:
This concludes a journey to the majors with so many different twists and turns for Appel. He was first drafted out of high school in 2009 by the Tigers, but he elected to attend Stanford. He was one of the top pitchers in college baseball come 2012, but expectations that he wouldn't sign caused him to fall to the Pirates at the eighth overall pick that year. He remained in school and heading to the 2013 draft was considered one of an elite trio of collegiate prospects along with Kris Bryant and Jon Gray. He would go first overall to the Astros, with the Cubs getting Bryant second and the Rockies taking Gray third.
Appel struggled, posting a 9.74 ERA in his 12 starts in High-A in 2014. He still pitched in the Arizona Fall League that year and was more mediocre than bad in Double-A and Triple-A in 2015.
Still, he wasn't included in Baseball America's top 100 prospects by the spring of 2016 (Bryant, meanwhile, had won Rookie of the Year and was beginning his MVP season -- facts that started to cause the general public to view Appel as a bust by the end of the year). He was traded to the Phillies in the deal that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.
After a pretty bad 2017 season, Appel was designated for assignment and was outrighted off the Phillies' 40-man roster. He ended up leaving baseball -- though he was careful to not use the word "retired."
In 2021, Appel made a comeback. He ended up making eight appearances in Double-A and 15 in Triple-A, pitching overall to a 6.06 ERA and 1.61 WHIP.
This season, however, Appel has a 1.61 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 24 strikeouts in 28 innings in Triple-A. He's recorded five saves and five wins in relief without having taken a single loss. He surely won't be a high-leverage reliever for the Phillies here to start his big-league career, but they've had late-inning problems and there's a window here for an excellent, feel-good story if he sticks and finds his way to meaningful innings.