Mark Appel, one of only three No. 1 overall MLB Draft picks to fail to reach the Majors, is attempting a comeback with the Phillies following a three-year break from baseball, according to The Athletic.
The 29-year-old right-hander and Houston native was drafted No. 1 overall in 2013 by the Astros, with the hope that he would one day play a key role in bringing Houston its first World Series title. Four years later, the Astros won their first World Series, but without Appel, whom they traded to the Phillies as part of a package that brought closer Ken Giles to Houston after the ’15 season. Appel continued to struggle in the Philadelphia organization before announcing “an indefinite break” from baseball in February 2018.
Appel has been forthright about his mental struggles with the pressure of being a top Draft selection. In five Minor League seasons, he posted a 5.06 ERA, including a 5.27 ERA over 17 starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2017, the last time he took the mound as a professional. According to the report in The Athletic, Appel will soon report to Phillies Minor League Spring Training camp.
As he resumes his quest to reach the Majors, Appel will try to shed the distinction of being a member of a rare group of No. 1 overall picks to never reach the big leagues — the other two (not including active Minor Leaguers) are Brien Taylor (drafted No. 1 overall by the Yankees in 1991) and Steven Chilcott (drafted first overall by the Mets in 1966).