Watch CBS News

Philadelphia Phillies release pitcher Mark Appel

Digital Brief: March 20, 2023 (AM)
Digital Brief: March 20, 2023 (AM) 02:55

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Phillies on Monday released pitcher Mark Appel, who made his major-league debut in 2022 nine years after he was drafted first overall in the amateur draft.

Appel's journey to finally being a big leaguer is a feel-good story. He was drafted by the Houston Astros with the first pick in 2013 after standing out at Stanford and received a $6.25 million signing bonus, but he never made it to the majors with Houston.

Appel struggled in the Houston minor league system. In his third year in the organization, he posted a 4.37 ERA in 25 starts between Double A and Triple A in 2015.

The Astros then traded Appel to the Phillies as part of a package that landed Houston relief pitcher Ken Giles in the winter of 2015.

Appel's struggles continued at Lehigh Valley and then in early 2018, Appel announced he was retiring.

"When I decided to leave baseball at the end of 2017, I never imagined I would be able to play again," Appel wrote on Twitter on June 23, 2022. "I was injured with no clear path to good health. I was emotionally and spiritually drained."

In 2021, Appel's decided to return to baseball and rejoin the Phillies organization. He made 23 appearances with the Reading Fightin' Phils and Lehigh Valley IronPigs, posting a 6.17 ERA.

Things turned around, however, in 2022 for Appel. In April and May, Appel had a 2.09 ERA in 13 appearances in Lehigh Valley and then had six scoreless outings in June.

Then the call came.

Appel was promoted to the big leagues on June 25 after Phillies reliever Connor Brogdon was placed on the COVID-19 injured list. He didn't pitch, but he made his MLB debut four days later.

"Completely overwhelmed. I have so many thoughts I want to share but can't find the words, so I'll just say this: I'm thankful," Appel tweeted before the June 25 game in San Diego. "Today, I get to play a game I love as a Major League Baseball player."

Appel struck out one and allowed a hit in an inning during the Phillies' 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on June 29. He ended up making six appearances in 2022 with the Phillies.

After the 2022 season, Appel opted for free agency but returned to the Phils on a minor-league contract.

But with the Phillies' increased pitching depth, Appel's path back to the majors appeared blocked in Philadelphia. With the release, Appel could latch on somewhere else with a better opportunity.

The Phillies on Monday also reassigned pitches Ben Bowden and Louis Head and catcher Max McDowell to minor league camp.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.