Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 Phillies Prosect Countdown: #21 RHP Mark Appel

M. Appel, image- Cheryl Pursell
Last off-season the Phillies landed former number one overall draft pick Mark Appel from the Astros in a trade for reliever Kenny Giles. Hopes were high that the new team and the player himself could capitalize on Houston’s exhausted patience with the once promising right-hander. However injuries, not necessarily performance, were of concern last year and Appel still remains surrounded by questions regarding his future.

At Stanford University, Appel enjoyed a tremendous college career in which he was honored as a multi-time All-American.  During his senior season in 2013, he notched a 4-0 record with three saves, a 0.90 ERA, a .203 batting average against and a 13.06 K/9 mark in nine games.

Following the 2013 draft, Appel made his minor league debut with Class A short-season Tri-City in the New York-Penn League. In two starts there, he struck out six and walked none, allowing two earned runs in five innings pitched. He was soon promoted to Class A Quad Cities and performed very well there. In eight starts, Appel notched a 3-1 record with a 3.82 ERA along with a .236 batting average against.

The following season, his first full year as a pro, Appel opened the season the Class A Advanced Lancaster, where he posted weak numbers. In 12 starts, he would sport a 2-5 record with a 9.74 ERA and a .372 batting average against. Despite that rough stat line, the Astros promoted Appel to Double-A Corpus Christi by the end of July. He would post a 1-2 record with a 3.69 and a .236 BAA in seven games there.

Appel returned to Corpus Christi to open his 2015 campaign. In 13 games, the six-foot-five 220-pounder would post a 5-1 record with a 4.26 ERA while striking out 49 and walking 23 in 63 1/3 innings in 13 starts. By mid-season, he was promoted to Triple-A Fresno. With the Grizzlies, he had a 5-2 record with a 4.48 ERA while striking out 61 and walking 28 in 68 1/3 innings through 12 starts.

Additionally, in 2015 he represented the Astros at the MLB All-Star Futures Game. He impressed with a blazing fastball clocking at 98 MPH for the first pitch he threw.

The 25-year-old sported a 3-3 record with a 4.46 ERA and a .267 BAA in eight starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year before he was sidelined with a shoulder strain in May and later experienced an elbow issue during his shoulder rehab that required season-ending surgery.

In the Astros organization, reports suggested that Appel lacked the edge it takes for a pitcher to succeed at the top levels of the sport. A self-proclaimed nice guy, he may need to alter his approach a bit and develop a bit of a more aggressive side.

Coaches in the Phils’ system feel that Appel is an exciting prospect and they recognized the strides he took after joining his new organization.

Appel, who is on the Phillies’ 40-man roster, spent much of this off-season rehabbing and working out at the team’s training facility in Clearwater, FL He is expected to be fully healthy at the start of big league spring training.

The pitch arsenal for Appel features a fastball that gets toward the upper 90’s with some regularity as well as two above average secondary offerings, a change up and a slider, both of which sit in the mid-80’s. Consistency with command is a big factor with Appel, who has a 3.2 BB/9 mark in his pro career. That needs to improve if he wants to reach the top level of the sport. He has been able to rack up solid strike out numbers (7.9 K/9) through his minor league tenure.

In his pro career, Appel has been a starter in 61 of his 62 appearances.  The time may come sooner than later to try him in a relief role.

Appel was drafted out of high school by the Tigers in the 15th round in 2009, but attended college instead. He was also drafted 8th overall by the Pirates following his junior season, but chose not to sign. With Stanford, he was a two-sport athlete, also lettering in basketball.

Look for Appel to return as a key member of the IronPigs’ staff in 2017.

You can follow along with this year’s Phillies prospects countdown by clicking this link
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