The Philadelphia Phillies recently let go of former top pitching prospect Mark Appel after he did not make the club out of camp. Should the SF Giants see if they can help Appel?
Should the SF Giants take a flyer on former top pick?
The 31-year-old pitcher has had a career that not many envisioned when he was selected as the first pick in successive drafts by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
The Stanford University product was considered a can't-miss prospect and a future ace at the time of the draft. However, his struggles on the mound began almost as soon as his pro career started and they worsened as he moved up the minor league ladder.
For a period of time, Appel stepped away from baseball folllowing the 2017 season. He did not consider it a retirement and he returned to the mound in 2021. Though, he struggled to the tune of a 6.06 ERA in 23 appearances across two levels in that season.
The right-handed hurler put together a strong 2022 campaign in which he tallied a 3.15 ERA in 31 appearances in Triple-A while working exclusively out of the bullpen. This earned him a long-awaited promotion to the majors where he yielded just two earned runs in 10.1 frames.
Unfortunately, this was not enough for the Phillies to keep him on the 40-man roster. Appel cleared waivers, became a free agent, but immediately re-signed with Philadelphia with a camp invite. Spring training did not go as planned as the righty posted an 11.12 ERA in six outings.
The Phillies released Appel near the end of spring training. Appel has been very vocal about his struggles as an athlete. And, if you follow him on Twitter, I think his perspective adds a humanistic touch to athletes. Athletes are incredibly gifted and work hard but they struggle with failure just like anyone else and Appel knows this all too well.
For what it is worth, the former top pick intends to keep pitching, which could be a nice opportunity for San Francisco. The Triple-A roster will feature a rotation that includes Tristan Beck, Keaton Winn, and Kyle Harrison.
There may not be a lot of room in the rotation, but there should be some in the bullpen. The Giants front office has made a concerted effort to target players with local ties and Appel checks that box. He attended Stanford University as well as Monte Vista High School in Danville, California.
The Sacramento River Cats will feature plenty of players with local ties like Beck (Stanford University), Harrison (De La Salle High School), Stephen Piscotty (Stanford University) and Austin Wynns (Fresno State University). There are more to add to the list but you get the point.
It might even prove cathartic pitching so close to home. And, it is one of the reasons why the front office has targeted so many players with local ties in recent years. There is comfort in pitching close to home and it increases the chances that the player will choose not to exercise his opt-out if he has one.
This could be a win-win situation for the Giants and Appel. Appel showed that he could offer as a reliever and the Giants could offer a sense of comfort.