Nine years after going No. 1 overall in the MLB draft, Mark Appel is finally set for his Major League Baseball debut.
According to ESPN, the Philadelphia Phillies called Appel up to the big leagues Saturday after placing reliever Connor Brogdon on the COVID-19 list.
The 30-year-old Appel tweeted the following about the landmark moment:
Mark Appel @markappel26
Completely overwhelmed. I have so many thoughts I want to share but can’t find the words, so I’ll just say this:<br><br>I’m thankful.<br><br>Today, I get to play a game I love as a Major League Baseball player.<br><br>LET’S GOOOOO <a href="https://twitter.com/Phillies?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PHILLIES</a>!!!!
Since the Houston Astros made him the first pick in the 2013 draft, Appel has toiled in the minors and was even out of baseball for three years from 2018 through 2020 because of labrum and rotator cuff injuries.
As a collegiate pitcher, Appel was a dominant force, going 26-13 with a 2.57 ERA and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings in three seasons at Stanford.
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Appel eighth overall in the 2012 MLB draft, but he went back to school for one more year and saw his stock rise to the point that Houston took him first overall in the following draft.
What ensued was a minor league career full of poor play and injuries.
Appel played at every level of the minor leagues for the Astros from 2013 to 2015 before getting traded to the Phillies organization prior to the 2016 season.
After two seasons as a Phillies minor leaguer, Appel took a lengthy break from baseball and it seemed as though his dream of playing in the majors was over, but he decided to give it one more shot in 2021 when he rejoined the organization.
It was a rocky return for Appel, who went 3-6 with a 6.06 ERA in 23 appearances, including 15 starts, for the Phillies' Double-A and Triple-A teams last season.
Despite coming up as a starter, Appel focused only on being a reliever this season, and the decision has paid dividends.
In 19 games for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Appel is 5-0 with a 1.61 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, five saves and 24 strikeouts over 28 innings.
While success has been fleeting for much of his pro career, there is no question that Appel has earned the promotion with his play this season.
The call-up comes at a perfect time as well since the Phillies recently demoted closer Corey Knebel amid a rough patch and have not named a definitive replacement, meaning there is a chance Appel could put himself in the conversation for saves.
Appel's first potential opportunity to pitch in the majors will come Saturday night when the Phillies face the San Diego Padres on the road starting at 10:10 p.m. ET.