When the Phillies traded closer Ken Giles to Houston, they asked for Mark Appel as part of the package in exchange. There was some thought that the 24-year old would be able to use a change of scenery where there would be less expectations on him and that he might develop into a stronger pitcher than he had shown in the Astros organization.
Appel made just eight starts for Lehigh Valley, with the last one against Toledo being a disaster. Appel was hit for four earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning and later said that his elbow had been "barking" for a while. Appel's first four starts saw him go 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA, but he was 0-3 in the next four with an 8.27 ERA, so it's easy to spot right about the time the elbow had started to bother him.
A little more than a month after going on the DL, the Phillies revealed that Appel underwent surgery to remove bone chips in his right shoulder, which will cause him to miss the remainder of the season. He officially finishes the year at 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA.
Fans in Houston had put a lot of pressure on Appel to not just succeed, but to be a prime starter after the Astros took him with the first overall pick in the 2013 Draft. A year earlier, Pittsburgh had drafted him with the eighth overall pick and coming out of high school, Detroit selected him in the 15th round of the 2009 Draft. To say that Appel was highly sought after is an understatement.
His time in the Astros organization had ups and downs, but he never reached the majors with Houston, going as high as Triple-A in 2015. Over three seasons, he established a 16-11 record with a 5.13 ERA. While he wasn't a centerpiece of the deal between the Phillies and Astros, he was a welcomed addition to the growing list of young pitching prospects that the Phillies were assembling.
Even though the injury ended his season prematurely, the Phillies will need to make a decision on Appel, because if they don't add him to the 40-man roster after the season, he would be exposed in the annual Rule 5 Draft that is part of baseball's Winter Meetings.
Mark Appel's career stats
|Minors (4 seasons)||19||14||5.04||62||61||291.1||320||181||163||29||104||255||1.455||2.45|