The Philadelphia Phillies have designated pitcher Mark Appel for assignment, and the Milwaukee Brewers might want to act on it.
Though this wouldn’t be the blockbuster pitching move that everyone is anticipating, it could be smart. The Milwaukee Brewers have a chance to lay claim on a pitcher with huge upside. Some may recognize Appel’s name from the 2013 draft, when he was selected first overall. That makes him the only player taken ahead of Kris Bryant.
So far things have not panned out. Appel struggled in Houston in the early part of his career. He was traded to Philadelphia along with Vince Velasquez in hopes a scenery change would do the trick. It did not. Unfortunately a scenery change does not change arm problems.
That’s right, he has struggled with arm issues his whole career. It is a reason that his walk rate is so high. But, there is some untapped potential in him that could be brought out. All that needs to happen is that his arm issues need to subside. Granted, I am making that sound a lot easier than it is.
Here is the proposition though. Put aside all of Appel’s numbers and all of the disappointment thus far. The important stat to see is that in all his years in the minors, he has appeared twice in a relief role. Twice. That means, so far, organizations are seeing consistent arm issues and still trying him out in a long role, making him throw a ton of pitches.
In theory, if his work load lightens so will the injuries. It may be sad to see a number one overall pick be used only in relief, but the Milwaukee Brewers aren’t the team to draft him or trade for him. They could claim him on waivers and use their excellent development system to turn Appel into a great reliever.
Those who know Milwaukee Brewers history know that they did not have a first round pick in 2013. However, that round proved to be very plentiful. Between Bryant, Clint Frazier, Tim Anderson, Corey Knebel, Aaron Judge, and more, there is a lot of talent to come out of that year. The Crew could be the team to pull that level of play out of Appel.
There is a chance that claiming Appel would not work out. But there really does not seem to be anything to lose. It is a low risk, high reward claim off of waivers. The Milwaukee Brewers should seriously consider going after one of the few who can say he was selected before everyone else in his draft class.