Mark Appel’s career had the hallmarks of a Disney movie. He had been one of the top prospects in baseball at one point, the first overall pick of the Houston Astros in the 2013 MLB Draft. However, Appel struggled, never living up to expectations. Even a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies organization as part of the Ken Giles trade failed to change anything as he continued to struggle. Appel walked away from the game in 2017, openly discussing the physical and mental toll from his time in the minors.
Appel ended up making his return in 2021, a comeback that few had expected. He struggled again that year, posting a 6.06 ERA and a 1.612 WHiP in his 71.1 innings. He may have had command issues, but Appel had also gone three years without pitching. That rust was to be expected.
Still time for a third act for Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Mark Appel
Everything finally came together for Appel in 2022. He had an impressive showing in the minors, posting a 1.61 ERA at the end of June. The Phillies, desperate for bullpen help, summoned Appel to the majors, allowing him to make his debut. He performed relatively well, allowing just two runs on nine hits and three walks over 10.1 innings, striking out five. Although shoulder woes ended his season and he was unable to participate in the playoffs, that is where the story would end.
But that was not the case. Appel had stated earlier in the spring that 2023 could be his final year as a player as he faced the reality that he was fighting for a spot on the roster. He struggled during spring training, allowing seven runs on ten hits and six walks in 5.2 innings before being released by the Phillies on Monday. That storybook ending had turned into another tragedy.
There is time for that to change. Appel could return to the Phillies on a minor league deal. Another team could bring him in on a minor league deal as well and let him mentor their pitchers in Triple-A. Considering how much he has overcome already to reach the majors, there is no reason to count Appel out. One door may be closed, but another will open. When that happens, he will be ready to give it everything he can.
One door has closed for Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Mark Appel. That does not mean his storybook ending will not come – it is just another chapter.