Former No. 1 Pick Holds Back Tears After Pitching Scoreless Inning In Debut At Age 30

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Former first-overall pick in the MLB Draft, Mark Appel, stepped on the Major League mound for the first time in his career on Wednesday, throwing in the ninth for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Atlanta Braves.

In his debut, at the age of 30, Appel tossed a scoreless inning in what was a brilliant tale of resiliency by the Stanford product.

In 2013, Houston Astros selected Appel with the top pick. He struggled to earn the call and even took a three-year hiatus from pursuing the pros between 2018 and 2021.

Appel joined the Phillies in March 2021 and was assigned to the Reading Fightin Phils at the start of the year.


Appel had a 5-0 record in Triple-A this season, recording a 1.61 ERA, 24 strikeouts, and five saves through 28 innings.

Mark Appel
Mark Appel (22) of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on June 29, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

One year after that, Appel finally got the call on June 24 when right-hander Connor Brogdon went on COVID IL.

Facing the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, Appel showed poise in his long-awaited debut, pitching the scoreless inning, tallying a major strikeout, and allowing one hit.

Though the Phillies lost 4-1, Appel’s teammates considered the moment a big win.

“It was just really cool to see it all culminate, him running in from the bullpen,” Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “I kind of snuck a peek at him a little before second base. Just a grin, right? You just can’t keep it in.”

“Having perspective and remembering even just two, three years ago. Even if I was just trying to come back, it’s never been a straight line for me,” Appel told MLB media after the game.

“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.”

Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Jeopardy expert and grumpy sports fan that has watched every movie.

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