The Philadelphia Phillies might have multiple former first overall picks together in Lehigh Valley this season.
According to a report from The Athletic’s Matt Gelb and Evan Drellich, Mark Appel is attempting a comeback within the Phillies organization.
Per the report, Appel is set to go to minor-league spring training, over three years after he stepped away in 2018.
If Appel’s spring comeback is a success, he could soon be teammates with another No. 1 overall pick in Mickey Moniak on the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Appel was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2013 draft, one season after being drafted eighth by the Pittsburgh Pirates and opting to play out his senior year at Stanford.
He spent the next three seasons in the Astros organization, still viewed as a highly-touted prospect but one that didn’t pitch to the level he did in college. Across multiple minor league levels, Appel pitched to a 6.91 ERA over 19 starts in 2014 and a 4.37 ERA over 25 starts in 2015.
The Phillies acquired the now 29-year-old Appel as part of the package in the trade that sent Ken Giles to the Houston Astros in 2015. He spent two seasons with Lehigh Valley, pitching to a 4.46 ERA in eight games in 2016 and a 5.27 in 17 games in 2017, while walking nearly six batters per nine innings.
Gelb and Drellich mention that the Phillies considered making Appel a reliever in 2017, but it never happened. Ultimately, Appel stepped away from baseball prior to the 2018 season. But now, he is someone to keep an eye on as he begins his comeback attempt.
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