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Elephant Rumblings: Phillies’ Mark Appel gets first MLB callup at 30

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Reading Fightin Phils Double-A Affiliate Baseball Team Media Day Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Happy Monday, Athletics Nation!

Tony Kemp had one heckuva game on Saturday, making several key contributions in the A’s 9-7 win over the Royals. It was a veritable smorgasbord of hits that enabled the A’s to break a four game losing streak and position themselves for their first series win of the month.

Perhaps it was Kemp’s kind words about former minor-league teammate Mark Appel before Saturday’s game that put a spring in his stride. The right-handed pitcher was called up by the Phillies on the same day, clearing the way for the 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick to finally make his MLB debut after years of injury struggles and a three year long hiatus from the game.

As Matt Kawahara at the San Francisco Chronicle detailed, Appel and Kemp were drafted by the Houston Astros the same year and spent much of their early careers playing together for the organization’s minor league affiliates.

Traded to the Phillies in 2015 and subsequently plagued by injuries, Appel left baseball in 2018. He rejoined the Phillies’ system in 2021 and has gone 5-0 with a 1.61 ERA in AAA this year to earn his callup to Philadelphia.

Appel was born in Houston but has Bay Area ties. He attended Monte Vista High School in Danville (fun fact: so did AN Editor-in-Chief Alex Hall) and went on to play for Stanford from there, choosing college over early entry to the pros after being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2009.

Appel told of his long, fraught road to the bigs and expressed gratitude for the opportunities ahead in a series of tweets.

Be sure to check out Kawahara’s piece for Kemp’s comments and more details. And if you want to delve deeper into Appel’s journey from phenom to bust to finally a big leaguer, head over to The Athletic and check out the feature Matt Gelb did for the site.

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