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Ex-top pick Appel, 30, makes MLB debut for Phils

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Former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, a month shy of his 31st birthday, made his major debut Wednesday night and pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Philadelphia Phillies.

At 30 years and 349 days, Appel — whose baseball career included a three-season absence from the sport — is the oldest ever former top overall pick from the June draft (since 1965) at the time of his MLB debut.

The right-hander allowed one hit and recorded a strikeout as the Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves 4-1.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Appel said. “I was trying to hold back the tears. It was emotional. It was special.”

Appel was picked No. 1 overall by the Houston Astros in 2013 and was part of a trade to Philadelphia in 2015. Due to injuries and ineffectiveness, Appel left baseball in 2018 before coming back to the Phillies organization in 2021.

Appel has spent the past two seasons pitching in Double- and Triple-A for the Phillies. He has a 5-0 record and 1.61 ERA in 19 appearances for Lehigh Valley this season, and earned a promotion to the majors last Saturday.

One of the most decorated pitchers in NCAA history, Appel was drafted eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, but he returned to Stanford for his senior season and the Astros selected him first in 2013, one spot ahead of Kris Bryant.

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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