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‘God Reignited That Spark In Me’: Mark Appel Makes MLB Debut 9 Years After Going No. 1 In MLB Draft

Photo from Mark Appel’s Instagram

‘God Reignited That Spark In Me’: Mark Appel Makes MLB Debut 9 Years After Going No. 1 In MLB Draft

By Movieguide® Staff

In 2013, the life of a 21-year-old Stanford pitcher named Mark Appel would change forever. Seen as a homerun prospect by scouts around the league, his hometown team, the Houston Astros, selected Appel with the first pick in the MLB draft.

But 2013 would not be Appel’s debut in the league. After nine years riddled with injuries, setbacks, and an exit from the MLB entirely, Appel made his official debut at 30—the oldest No. 1 pick in MLB history.

Appel took the mound for the first time in his MLB career on Wednesday, June 29, and threw a scoreless ninth inning for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Despite the 9-year on-deck for Appel, he gave glory to God for his return to baseball.

“Literally, what’s happening right now in my life is only by the grace of God,” he told MLB Network. “I was literally hopeless. I had given up on ever having this day come. But I think God reignited that spark in me, and I think when God does something like that, it can take time, but it can be hard to stop.”

“You obviously have this dream of getting to the big leagues, but for me this is just like gravy,” Appel said of his time spent in the minor leagues. “All the other stuff was taken care of. I didn’t need for this to happen this year for me to feel like it was a successful year. All of this is gravy. I’m just soaking it all in. It’s awesome.”

Although uncertainty marked Appel’s MLB career, his faith in God remained the one constant.

“I think initially when I was saved, the Gospel was something that was, ‘OK, this is kind of my get-out-of-jail-free card, this is my forgiveness — forgiveness from sins and my eternal life that’s been gifted to me,'” Appel told Sports Spectrum Podcast in 2018—the year he left the MLB. “Now, instead of it still kind of being about me, it starts to just really be only about God and His glory.”

Appel said he relied on Christ when the pressure from fans and the MLB became too much to carry.

“There is contentment to be had in Christ, and Christ is the one who will give me the strength to be content in the circumstance,” he said. “It was just kind of this eye-opening lesson and revelation that God just kind of reminded me and showed me His truth in Scripture.”

In 2021, Appel returned to the sport he loves.

“I think at the end of the day, I just want to have peace and closure about my career and all the good and bad that’s happened in my baseball career,” Appel told Sports Spectrum in an interview in February. “And I think once I have closure, I think I’ll be really, really happy to move on.”