Astros: Reflections on Mark Appel’s “break” from baseball


Former first overall pick of the Astros, Mark Appel, has decided to step away from baseball.

The Astros drafted Mark Appel first overall in the 2013 MLB Draft. A consequence of this decision allowed the Chicago Cubs to select Kris Bryant with the very next pick. At the time, it didn’t seem to be such a consequence.

The Appel-Bryant debate will likely be the story you see over the coming days as baseball people look back upon Appel’s decision. Some will paint it into a royal screw up by the Astros in not taking Bryant first overall. Others will point to the shortcomings of Appel’s professional baseball career.

Part one, anyway.

Remember that Appel isn’t retiring. He could still return. And, yes, I am curious to see how far he could go if he was converted to a relief role. See: Andrew Miller and his success as a reliever. Outlandish comparison? Yes. Completely impossible? No. Different circumstances? Again, yes.

While it is fair to question such things, hindsight is 20/20. Nobody could foretell how this road for Appel would unfold. A career arc in baseball is never set in stone.

However, if you want a fresh perspective, Joon Lee of Bleacher Report authored a terrific piece that provides insight into Appel and why he made this decision. If you have a free moment, I highly recommend that you’d check it out.

For better or worse, there will always be comparisons between Appel and Bryant in terms of baseball careers.

They’ll forever be connected because of the Astros’ decision nearly four-and-half years ago. It’s obvious, in hindsight, that the Astros whiffed in this decision. At the same time, Appel had promise when he at Stanford. Don’t forget that he was selected in the first round…twice. Appel was well-regarded as a prospect upon his arrival to the Astros. You don’t have to look far into why general manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff would’ve been interested in his potential. The Phillies also saw something there, too. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have taken him in the Ken Giles deal.

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America had an insightful piece that illustrates the “inexact science” of scouting players. As Cooper noted in his post, the scouting reports and professional opinions on Appel seem to change overnight once he faced professional talent. If you have another free moment, I recommend that you’d check it out.

All of that said, it’s easy to see why Appel would step away. He’s toiled in the minor leagues for five years. In those five years, he’s appeared in 81 games. He has a 5.06 ERA in 375.1 innings in the minors. Injuries have been an issue. If the joy isn’t there anymore, then why should he continue on this path? If he feels a different calling in his life like an internship and a MBA, he should be allowed to pursue it.

Next: Astros: Top prospect spotlight - Forrest Whitley

Here’s to you, Mark Appel. This author wants to wish you the best as you begin the next journey of your life. And if we happen to see you on a baseball field again one day, that’ll be cool. If not, that’s cool, too.

**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference**