- The Washington Times
Thursday, June 30, 2022

Mark Appel, considered one of the biggest busts in MLB history, made his long-awaited major league debut on Wednesday. 

The former surefire pitching prospect with the Astros became the oldest No. 1 overall pick since 1965 to make his debut when he pitched an inning of relief for the Phillies. Appel is 30 years and 349 days old. 

“It’s pretty surreal,” Appel told reporters after the game. 

Appel struggled mightily in the minors and dealt with multiple injuries after signing a $6.35 million signing bonus for being selected No. 1 overall in the 2013 MLB Draft.  Appel was traded to the Phillies in 2015. His career earned-run average in the minor leagues after five seasons was north of 5.00, causing him to take a break from the game in 2018. 

“If you want to call me the biggest draft bust, you can call it that,” Appel said in 2018.

Appel didn’t play professionally for the next three years, but he returned to play in the minors with the Phillies last season. He had similar struggles in 2021, but he found his stride this season. In 28 innings with Philadelphia’s Triple-A affiliate, Appel posted a 5-0 record and a 1.61 ERA with five saves.

He was called up on Saturday, and he tossed a scoreless ninth in his debut Wednesday, allowing one hit and striking out a batter on a 97 mph fastball.

“Even if I was just trying to come back, it’s never been a straight line for me,” Appel said, per MLB.com. “Even in that whole process, I was lost. I felt like there were times when I was hopeless, that this dream would never happen. So yeah, I was choking back tears.” 

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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