The Phillies Actually Got a Former No. 1 Pick in the Ken Giles Trade

Righthanded pitcher Mark Appel, who Houston took first overall in 2013, was traded to the Phillies in the deal for closer Ken Giles.

From left: Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez.

From left: Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez.

Last week, I wrote about why the Phillies were right to trade Ken Giles. He’s a closer, a piece that’s often available on the open market, instead of via the draft.

Turns out the trade was a bit different than what was originally reported by media outlets. The Phillies did not ultimately get outfielder Derek Fisher in the deal. Instead, this was their full haul from the Astros for Giles and 17-year-old infielder Jonathan Arauz: Right-handers Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez, Thomas Eshelman and Harold Arauz and left-hander Brett Oberholtzer. The Phillies got five pitchers, and they managed to trade one Arauz for another Arauz.

Appel is the most notable name here: He was Houston’s No. 1 overall pick in 2013. He was actually also selected in the first round in 2012 (8th overall), but didn’t sign. At the time, Baseball America ranked Appel the fifth-closest college pitcher to the majors.

But his stock has fallen since then. He had a 9.74 ERA in High Class-A Lancaster — “Lancaster’s a hostile pitching environment,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said — and has posted a 5.12 ERA in the minor leagues so far.

“The more I look, the more I see pieces coming together for Philadelphia,” Appel told “I think Philadelphia is in a place where maybe the Astros were a couple of years ago. We’ve seen what the Astros have done. I’m excited to be a part of that in Philadelphia, and I think my goal is to get that to happen as soon as possible.”

The key piece in the deal is Velasquez. He’s 23, and he can hit 98 mph on the radar gun occasionally. If he becomes a major league starter, the Phillies probably made out pretty well in the deal.

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