Should the Pirates pursue Mark Appel?

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 12: Mark Appel
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 12: Mark Appel /

A former first round draft pick of the Pirates is back on the open market, should the Bucs look to sign the newly designated pitcher?

With the eighth selection in the first round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher Mark Appel. However, Appel did not sign with the Pirates and he re-entered the draft in 2013.

In 2013, the Houston Astros drafted Mark Appel with the first overall selection. He was then traded to the Philadelphia Phillies following the 2015 season. After never reaching the Major Leagues with the Phillies, Appel was designated for assignment on Monday evening.

Should the Pirates take a gamble on Mark Appel? Since he has not even yet started his arbitration clock – yes, yes they should.

The 2017 season was a mess for Mark Appel. Due to injuries he made 17 starts with all of them coming at the Triple-A level. He pitched in 82 innings in those 17 starts and struggled immensely with control averaging 5.82 BB/9, while also hitting five batters and throwing 11 wild pitches.

Mark Appel also averaged just 6.59 K/9 in 2017 and he allowed 91 hits. This led to him owning a 5.27 ERA, 5.42 FIP, and a 5.24 xFIP for Lehigh Valley.

Control has always plagued Mark Appel in the minor leagues. He has averaged 3.80 BB/9 in 375 1/3 career minor league innings. This has led to Appel owning a lifetime 5.06 ERA in the minor leagues.

That said, Mark Appel has always had fantastic stuff. Appel has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, he throws a wipeout slider, and he has a plus changeup. The Pirates, obviously, have always loved Mark Appel’s stuff. So there is reason to believe that the Bucs would be interested in finally getting Mark Appel under contract.

Since Mark Appel was designated for assignment, all the Pirates would have to do to add him is place a waiver claim on Appel. This is made easier by having two open spots on the 40-man roster.

The Pirates would have no obligation to put Mark Appel in the Opening Day rotation, or even on the Opening Day roster. With the stuff that Appel possesses it would be a worthwhile gamble to see if Ray Searage can fix him this offseason and during Spring Training.

Next: Bucs make a trade, add three to 40-man roster

If Mark Appel can pitch anywhere near his ceiling he will be a very good Major League starting pitcher. This makes him a worthwhile gamble for a team that claims him off waivers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates should be this team.