Former No. 1 pick Mark Appel reaches majors with Phillies

June 26, 2022 GMT
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Mark Appel smiles in the dugout before the team's baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Saturday, June 25, 2022, in San Diego. Appel, the 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick, received his first major league call-up Saturday at the age of 30. (AP Photo/Derrick Tuskan)
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Mark Appel smiles in the dugout before the team's baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Saturday, June 25, 2022, in San Diego. Appel, the 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick, received his first major league call-up Saturday at the age of 30. (AP Photo/Derrick Tuskan)
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Mark Appel smiles in the dugout before the team's baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Saturday, June 25, 2022, in San Diego. Appel, the 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick, received his first major league call-up Saturday at the age of 30. (AP Photo/Derrick Tuskan)
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Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Mark Appel smiles in the dugout before the team's baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Saturday, June 25, 2022, in San Diego. Appel, the 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick, received his first major league call-up Saturday at the age of 30. (AP Photo/Derrick Tuskan)
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Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Mark Appel smiles in the dugout before the team's baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Saturday, June 25, 2022, in San Diego. Appel, the 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick, received his first major league call-up Saturday at the age of 30. (AP Photo/Derrick Tuskan)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Mark Appel is a big league ballplayer nine years after he was selected No. 1 overall in the amateur draft.

Appel was promoted by the Philadelphia Phillies, but didn’t pitch in the team’s 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night. The right-hander, who turns 31 on July 15, went 5-0 with a 1.61 ERA in 19 appearances for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

“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 posted on Twitter on Saturday before the game.

“Today, I get to play a game I love as a Major League Baseball player.”

Appel is stepping in for right-hander Connor Brogdon, who was placed on the COVID-19 injured list.

Appel was selected by Houston with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft after a standout college career at Stanford. He was an Astros fan growing up in West Houston and received a $6.35 million signing bonus.

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He went 10-3 with a 4.37 ERA while making a total of 25 starts at Double-A and Triple-A in 2015, and then was traded to Philadelphia in a multiplayer deal. But he announced in early 2018 that he was quitting the game, saying he was at peace with the decision.

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

But the fire to play wasn’t completely extinguished for Appel, and he found himself contemplating a comeback shortly after his retirement.

“I know I wouldn’t be able to be here if I hadn’t been able to have a good signing bonus,” Appel said last March, referring to the $6.35 million signing bonus. “Because going 3 1/2 years without much of a salary and doing all the rehab and investing money in your health, a lot of guys don’t have that luxury.”

Appel rejoined the Phillies organization before last season, and he went 3-6 with a 6.06 ERA in 23 appearances with Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley.

“I feel really thankful that I’m even able to be here. Because it is something that I love,” Appel said. “I don’t take that for granted.”

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