While the Phillies have watched Mickey Moniak struggle, the former number one overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft, Mark Appel has been surging in the minors. As a result, the Phillies made a bit of news this week when they announced that Moniak, the former number one overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, was optioned back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. While the big leagues haven’t been kind for Mickey Moniak, they continue to serve as the goal driving Mark Appel to reach his dreams.
The Continued Struggles for Mickey Moniak
Unfortunately, as the Phillies approached the 2016 MLB Draft in the worst possible place for a team holding the top pick. Unlike most seasons, there was really no consensus top-3 draft pick. Eventually the Phillies settled on Mickey Moniak, a high school senior out of California. At the time, the Phillies scouting director believed Moniak would hit for a high average while playing a very defensively sound centerfield.
Despite some inconsistent play throughout his minor league career, the Phillies added the top MLB Draft pick to the roster for the end of the 2020 season. Mickey Moniak would play briefly in the majors in both 2020 and 2021 but struggled mightily. While never known for his power, the Phillies surely hoped for more than 1 home run and 0 doubles over his first 47 at-bats. Furthermore, his ability to hit for contact also appeared to leave him as he only mustered a .128 average.
A Strong Start and a Disaster
Despite the struggles, Mickey Moniak entered Spring Training in 2022 as a man on a mission. With no clear centerfielder on the roster, Moniak slashed .378/.378/.973 while hitting 6 home runs. But disaster struck in his final spring at-bat when Moniak broke a bone in his hand after being hit by a pitch.
Since returning from the injured list, Moniak is hitting .160/.250/.160. Just like former manager Joe Girardi, Moniak now finds himself out of a job with the Phillies. Unlike Girardi, Moniak will have the opportunity to find his spring form back in Lehigh Valley.
The Path for the Top Pick in the 2013 MLB Draft
As a talented high school pitcher, Mark Appel was originally drafted in the 15th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Instead of joining the Tigers farm system, Appel bet on himself and honored his commitment to Stanford University with the hopes of performing well enough to earn a higher pick. After a dominant collegiate career, that bet looked to be paying off for the 2012 MLB Draft when he was projected to go early in the first round. However, Appel fell a bit, to the Pirates at number 8, due to a high signing bonus demand. When the Pirates failed to meet his expectations, he went back to college for his senior season.
After another incredible season, Mark Appel was selected with the first overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros. However, Appel struggled in Houston’s minor leagues, never advancing past Tripe-A. Appel’s ERA usually hovered in the high 4s to the low 5s while he averaged over a hit against per inning.
Houston We Have a Problem
As a result, the Astros gave up on Mark Appel following the 2015 season and traded him to the Phillies as part of a package for closer Ken Giles. Appel was added to the Phillies 40-man roster but after struggling in 2017 combined with a late season shoulder injury, the former top MLB Draft pick announced he was stepping away from the game.
After taking a few years off, Mark Appel apparently felt the itch to pitch again, and in advance of the 2021 season, he officially returned to the Phillies system. Despite the time off, Appel still struggled as a starting pitcher. As a result, the Phillies would move him to the bullpen for 2022.
Realizing Long Awaited Potential
So far in 2022, Mark Appel has been one of the better relievers in Triple-A. In 15 games and 23 innings, the long-believed MLB Draft bust has pitched to a 1.93 ERA and even picked up 4 saves on the season. With the Phillies major league bullpen struggling, 2022 could be the year that Mark Appel leaves Brien Taylor, Steven Chilcott and Brady Aiken (who didn’t sign) as top MLB Draft picks to never reach the majors.
Do you think Mickey Moniak can bounce back in Triple-A? Do you think Mark Appel will make his long awaited debut in 2022? Let us know in the comments below!
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