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May 2022

For Mark Appel, A Move to the Bullpen Has Reignited His Career

Mark AppelPhoto: Frank Klose/Sports Talk Philly

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Mark Appel’s name was beginning to find its way onto a list that no ballplayer wants their name attached to, “Biggest MLB Draft busts of all-time.” 

And why shouldn’t it. The 1st overall pick in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft is approaching 31-years old, owns a 5.01 MiLB ERA, retired for three-years and hasn’t stepped foot on a Major League mound. 

Appel could’ve called it a career, took his millions and went home to California. Instead he did what many pro athletes don’t do, he put his pride aside and changed. 

A starter for the majority of his baseball life, Appel made adjustments to his grip, his approach, and most importantly his role. He moved from the rotation to the bullpen and the results have been eye opening.

Appel is 5-0 with a 1.61 ERA, 24 Ks, and a 0.93 WHIP in 28.0 innings pitched since moving to the ‘pen. He’s also five-for-five in save opportunities for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley. 

His velocity, yeah that’s back too. Appel’s fastball sits in the 96-98 MPH range according to scouts who have watched him with the IronPigs. His off-speed stuff has been just as electric. 

Appel’s early season surprise has been enough to (finally) get the call to the Big Leagues.  He will be available from the bullpen for the Phillies on Saturday in San Diego. 

Now the questions becomes, what can Appel become for the Phillies?

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Farm Report: Mark Appel Promoted to the Big Leagues

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Nine years after being drafted 1st overall by the Houston Astros, Mark Appel will finally be making it to the Big Leagues. 

Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki is reporting Appel will join the Phillies in San Diego. He will be replacing Connor Brogdon who will be place on the COVID-IL.  

What a wild, weird journey it has been for the former top prospect in baseball.

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Report: Cole Hamels Looking to Make a Comeback

Cole_Hamels_pre-gamePhoto: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

New York Post baseball scribe Jon Heyman dropped an interesting nugget, former Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels is targeting next season to make a comeback.  The 2008 World Series MVP hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since September 16, 2020, with Atlanta.  “Hollywood” turns 39-years old in December and seems to be enjoying his vacation in Ocean City, NJ.


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Sixers End Draft Night With Signing of Champagnie to 2-Way Contract

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly 76ers Editor

The headline move of the night for the Philadelphia 76ers was their trade sending the No. 23 pick (which turned into David Roddy) and Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies for De'Anthony Melton. However, that was not the team's only move on draft night.

According to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice, the Sixers signed St. John's forward Julian Champagnie to a two-way contract.

Champagnie played three years at St. John's, where he averaged 19.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game as a junior last season. He is a high-volume 3-point shooter, although he had limited success in that department. Over his last two seasons at St. John's, he took 6.3 attempts per game from 3-point range and knocked them down at a 35.6% clip. He has the ability to shoot coming around screens, off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations, but he will need to improve his efficiency in order for his outside shooting to truly be a threat at the NBA level.

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Sixers Trade No. 23 Overall Pick, Danny Green to Grizzlies for De'Anthony Melton

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly 76ers Editor

The Philadelphia 76ers, after much speculation in recent days, pulled the trigger on a trade on draft night. The team, according to multiple reports, acquired guard De'Anthony Melton from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for the No. 23 overall pick (David Roddy) in the NBA Draft and veteran wing Danny Green.

Melton played a key reserve role off the bench for the Grizzlies last season. In 22.7 minutes per game, he averaged 10.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting 37.4% from 3-point range on 5.1 attempts per game. He is a proven outside shooter, connecting on 38.8% of his 3-pointers over his last two seasons.

He is also known for being a solid defender who plays with physicality and, despite being listed at just 6-foot-2, is capable of guarding multiple positions. He has a 6-foot-8 wingspan which, when combined with his defensive intensity, allows him to play bigger than his size would indicate.

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As the Draft Approaches, Thybulle Trade Rumors Grow and Reports Link Sixers to P.J. Tucker, Eric Gordon

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly 76ers Editor

The Philadelphia 76ers have many holes to fill this offseason. Wing depth and an infusion of toughness are among the most pressing issues to correct for an organization which has failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs thus far in superstar Joel Embiid's career. The NBA Draft, the first chance for the Sixers to improve their roster this offseason, is finally here. It kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m.

President of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who was general manager of the Houston Rockets for 13 seasons from 2007-2020, might be going back to his old stomping ground in an attempt to propel the Sixers' roster into championship contention. Multiple reports in recent days have connected the Sixers with both P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon, two players who were in Houston for part of Morey's tenure there.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported on Tuesday that Gordon would be available in trade talks and the Sixers, along with the Phoenix Suns, are the two teams most heavily interested in acquiring him.

Gordon would immediately bring a much needed scoring boost to the Sixers' bench unit. He is coming off one of the most efficient shooting seasons of his career. His points per game (13.4) might have dropped but he shot a career-high 47.5% from the field while also knocking down 41.2% of his attempts from 3-point range. He has had some trouble staying healthy in recent seasons, but he can still put up solid numbers when healthy. However, his $19.5 million cap hit next season (he is under contract for two more years with the final year being totally non-guaranteed) would make it difficult for the team to match salary in order to complete the trade.

Continue reading "As the Draft Approaches, Thybulle Trade Rumors Grow and Reports Link Sixers to P.J. Tucker, Eric Gordon" »

Farm Report: Phillies Prospect K’s 13 in Latest Outing

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Jersey Shore BlueClaws pitcher Griff McGarry, the No. 8 prospect in the Phillies system according to MLB Pipeline, turned in a performance for the ages on Wednesday night. The 23-year old struck out 13  Brooklyn Cyclones in South Atlantic League action. 

McGarry, the Phillies 5th round (145 overall) pick in the 2021 MLB First Year Player Draft out of the University of Virginia, gave up 1 R/ER, on 4-hits, and 2 BBs in 5.1 innings pitched.  Jersey Shore dropped the Cyclones 5-2 giving McGarry his second win on the season and improving the BlueClaws record to 25-40. 

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Farm Report: Reading's Jhailyn Ortiz Takes Max Scherzer Yard

Phillies Farm
By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Tuesday night was a massive night in Binghamton, NY.  Fans turned out in droves to watch three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer get taken yard by 23-year old prospect.  

Philadelphia Phillies prospect Jhailyn Ortiz took an 0-1 Scherzer pitch and deposited it over the leftfield wall of Mirabito Stadium.   The solo home run would end Scherzer’s night in Binghamton, the R-Phils tagged the rehabbing Mets starter for three runs in 3.1 innings of work. The fourth inning roundtripper would propel the Fightins to a 7-6 win over the Binghamton Mets Rumble Ponies in a pivotal Eastern League game.


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Bryce Harper Leads NL DH All Star Voting

Bryce Harper
By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Major League Baseball unveiled the results of the “first phase” of All Star voting and a familiar name is near the top of the National League ballot box. 

Phillies OF/DH Bryce Harper is the current leader for the National League designated hitter slot with just over one million votes. He ranks third overall in the league and fourth overall.  According to MLB's All-Star procedure, Harper's first place tally in phase one will lock him in as the starting NL DH.  This would mark Harper's seventh MLB All Star Game appearence. 

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How Valuable can Matt Vierling Be?

One of the more surprising and roller coaster storylines has been the one for center fielder Matt Vierling. With the many other surprises from the team both positive and negative, he is more known for his commercial with CarShield rather than the value he brings as a ball player. 

While the commercial is hilarious, he's starting to show really good signs as the season progresses and is playing his way into a valuable role for a playoff contender. 

Vierling has played the exact number of games this year as he did last year, and there are some really interesting notes we can make about him. 

He got the chance to play at the back end of last season and took advantage of the opportunity, with a slash line of .324/.364/.479. He looked like a real baseball player that came out of their minor league system, a concept not many Phillies fans are used to. 

This season, however, proves that he still has work to do. Given the bulk of the playing time in center field, Vierling struggled offensively with a .472 OPS while mostly hitting at the bottom of the lineup. He was sent down to AAA and called back up once they needed spots. 

Once he came back up, he made significant strides by reversing his start to the season in more of a utility bench role. A .988 OPS and he's beginning to show off some power in big moments. He gave the Phillies the lead by taking Josh Hader of all pitchers deep against Milwaukee and did the same against Tanner Rainey in Washington. 

Vierling may have real sneaky power as he's shown a knack for hitting the ball as hard as he could with a 91.5 exit velocity, which doesn't make someone a good hitter but does show potential in other ways like power. 

While he only hit two home runs last year, he destroyed both baseballs taking a changeup off Will Crowe 419 feet and a fastball from Preston Guilmet 433 feet. He may need to work on displaying more power in the future but he does have the potential to be an ok home run hitter. Two of his three home runs this year were also well above 400 feet so if he learns to connect more consistently, he can unleash real power. 

It is clear Vierling has had a worse statistical season this year compared to last but are still some positive signs in other areas. His strikeout rate last year was 26% and this year it's only 20 and he's also raised his walk rate up slightly by just under two percent. 

What's been maybe his most valuable ability, however, is his versatility. After never playing a game at second base his entire baseball career, he suited up and made all the routine plays against Arizona. He got the chance to play third for a game as well and has played every outfield spot for at least one game this year.

The big question for Vierling may be how valuable can he possibly be to them? Is he just a solid role player or can he warrant everyday at-bats in the near future? It's been a tale of two different stints for Vierling and there's still not a great answer in sight but still a lot of positive momentum.