Mark Appel got a fresh start when he was traded from the Astros to the Phillies this offseason as part of the Ken Giles deal, but the former No. 1 overall pick won’t be making the Opening Day roster.
That isn’t a big surprise, but Appel was sent to the minors today as one of the Phillies’ first cuts of spring training. Basically, they treated him like a random minor leaguer not close to being ready for the majors.
Appel split last season between Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 4.37 ERA and 110/51 K/BB ratio in 132 innings. He’s still just 24 years old and has a mid-90s fastball, but Appel has yet to put together any kind of consistently impressive stretch in the minors and has a career ERA of 5.12 as a pro.
His odds of making his MLB debut this season are pretty solid because the rebuilding Phillies figure to cycle through a bunch of different pitchers, but his name recognition is much, much higher than his prospect stock.
As an aside: Appel was the first pick in the 2013 draft. The second pick that year? Kris Bryant, who won Rookie of the Year for the Cubs last season.
Major League Baseball released a statement about Josh Hader a few minutes ago. Here it is in its entirety:
“During last night’s game we became aware of Mr. Hader’s unacceptable social media comments in years past and have since been in communication with the Brewers regarding our shared concerns. After the game, Mr. Hader took the necessary step of expressing remorse for his highly offensive and hurtful language, which fails to represent the values of our game and our expectations for all those who are a part of it. The Office of the Commissioner will require sensitivity training for Mr. Hader and participation in MLB’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.”
People can parse Hader’s apology if they want to — I wrote about what I feel like Hader needs to say and do to show that his tweets truly are not representative of who he is now — but this is probably about as well as Major League Baseball can do with this. The tweets in question occurred years ago, before Hader was in professional baseball. They even occurred before Major League Baseball had a formal social media policy. MLB attempting some sort of way-after-the-fact punitive action on Hader like a fine or a suspension would (a) be met with some understandable resistance by Hader and the union; and (b) would look more like the league trying to deal with a P.R. crisis more than dealing with the player.
That being said, the sensitivity training and diversity initiative participation makes loads of sense. If, as Hader said last night, he’s a different person now than he was back in 2011-12, he should embrace such activities. They’re positive ones and, hey, who couldn’t use a brush-up? If his claims of being a changed man were merely a reaction to a social media firestorm, well, that’ll be dealt with pretty well in those arenas as well. Either way, this gives Hader an opportunity to put his money where his mouth is.
If you think making Hader do such things is “punishment,” well, that opens up another conversation altogether I suppose.