“No.1 2013 overall pick”: Mark Appel with a stunning comeback to Major League Baseball

Phillies' Mark Appel to make long-awaited MLB debut, 9 years.

Mark Appel
Mark Appel

Mark Appel has made it to the big leagues, nine years after being drafted as the No.1 overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. He wrestled with performance, expectations and injuries along the way. He got traded from Houston Astros to Philadelphia Phillies in 2015. He got DFA’d (removed from the club’s 40-man roster) in 2017. He quit in 2018.

Mark Appel knew then he might never pitch again. Still, he had surgery on his right shoulder just in case he changed his mind. He then made his comeback in 2021 trying to earn the spot he couldn’t have when he was drafted. He transitioned from starter to reliever in 2022. He found success.

“When I decided to leave baseball at the end of 2017, I never imagined I would be able to play again,” the right-handed No.1 pick said on Twitter on Thursday. He came out of Monte Vista High School in Danville, California, the right-hander was one of the nation’s top preparational pitchers. He ultimately became a First Team All-American in 2012 and was named the National Pitcher of the Year.

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Mark Appel, the No.1 pick of 2013 given an opportunity by the Philadelphia Phillies

Mark Appel
Mark Appel

The journey that Mark Appel has had, with all due respect, is not a journey that any MLB No.1 draft pick would want. But as it is said ‘when the time is right it’ll happen’, just that happed with him. Take a look at Mark Appel’s career graph:

  • 2013: No. 1 overall draft pick
  • 2014: MLB’s No. 6 pitching prospect
  • 2015: Traded from Astros to Phillies
  • 2017: DFA’d by Phillies
  • 2018: Leaves baseball
  • 2021: Returns
  • 2022: @MLB debut with @Phillies

“You obviously have this dream of getting to the big leagues, but for me, this is just like gravy,” Philadelphia Phillies’ Mark Appel said. “All the other stuff was taken care of. I didn’t need this to happen this year for me to feel like it was a successful year. All of this is gravy. I’m just soaking it all in. It’s awesome.”

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“I went from being the first overall pick in 2013 to being called the ‘Biggest Bust in MLB History’ in early 2018. It’s also the amount of time between the day I left baseball and today. And what about today? Today, I am on a mound again, getting to play the game I fell in love with as a little leaguer growing up in Houston,” Mark Appel added.

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