When you're a No. 1 overall pick, you're a No. 1 overall pick for life.
It's just a matter of adding to that distinction. Some baseball players let their early success be their downfall, while others enhance the designation with labels like "All-Star" or "Hall-of-famer."
For Mark Appel, the first overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft, there hasn't been much else to add. Not yet anyway.
The 24-year-old hurler was recently acquired from the Astros in exchange for closer Ken Giles. And the change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered. Or maybe not. It all depends on Appel -- who has yet to toss a big league inning.
"The expectation of being the first overall pick was high," Appel, who spent last season in Double and Triple-A (posting a 10-3 record and 4.37 ERA), said. "I don't think I reached that expectation and that's on me. Being here in Philadelphia, it's a new chapter. I am moving forward."
As a scholar athlete and All-American at Stanford, Appel boasted a 10–4 record with a 2.12 ERA and struck out 130 batters in 106 1⁄3 innings during his senior season.
The transition to pro ball has been tough on the hurler, who scouts expected would be a bit more refined. Appel has solid stretches mixed with stretches where he misses his spots and leaves the ball up in the strike zone. Nonetheless, he expects to succeed with the Phillies organization, alongside a slew of top pitching prospects.
"I want to be a dominant pitcher here in Philadelphia," Appel said. "I hope to be in the big leagues. That's all of our dreams, coming up through the minors ever since we were kids. I believe I can be there."
Appel witnessed the rebirth of the Astros first-hand, seeing the team shrug off mediocre expectations to snatch an unexpected playoff berth in 2015. He says he sees many of the same ingredients in the Phillies' newly revitalized farm system.
"There's a lot of excitement," the pitcher said. "I look at the Phillies organization as one of the most storied organizations in major league history, a great town, a great city with great fans. I look at the fact that the Phillies' front office wanted me to be here they traded for me... it really reminds me of where the Astros were when I was drafted. I was able to see the turnaround and how quickly it happened. Not many people expected the Astros to be as good as they were this year and I think the Phillies can do the same thing. I am excited to be a part of it."