Photo by Cheryl Pursell
UPDATE: On Saturday, IronPigs manager Dusty Wathan confirmed that Mark Appel underwent an MRI that day. Wathan didn’t have any results, but predicted that no matter what the MRI shows, Appel will travel to the Phillies complex in Clearwater for whatever rehab work he may need.
Mark Appel was one of those classic “change of scenery” additions where the Phillies thought that getting him out of the Houston organization, where he was drafted number-one overall and so much was expected of him, might be what he needed to show off his skills.
Since arriving in the Phillies organization, Appel has been pretty much the same pitcher that he was as an Astro. Over the past two seasons, he has posted an 8-7 record with a 5.01 ERA as a Phillies prospect after going 16-11, 5.22 in three seasons in the Houston organization.
On Thursday, it was announced that Appel was placed on the IronPigs DL with a right shoulder sprain. When asked about the injury and its possible effects, manager Dusty Wathan was slightly terse.
“Don’t know. He’s seeing a doctor today,” was all Wathan had to say on the subject.
When asked whether Appel suffered the injury in his last start, Wathan did shed at least a little light on part of the injury. “No, it’s been bothering him.”
Last season, Appel missed all of July and August after surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow in late June.
Philadelphia acquired Appel in December, 2015 in the deal that sent Ken Giles to Houston. So far, Vince Velasquez and Tom Eshelman are looking like the shining stars out of that deal, with Brett Oberholtzer already out of the organization and Harold Arauz working his way, slowly, through the organization.
The injury comes at a time when the Phillies are looking to limit the innings of some of their starters. The IronPigs are opting to carry an extra bullpen arm rather than an extra bat on the bench to give Wathan the ability to cut short some starts here and there. Some organizations opt to simply shut a young pitcher down late in the season if they’ve thrown a lot of innings, but the Phillies are taking a smarter approach of allowing young pitchers to continue pitching, but limiting their innings per start.
“We’re going to carry an extra bullpen arm for a while,” announced Wathan on the day back from the break. “We’re going to cut down [Brandon] Leibrandt and [Tom] Eshelman’s innings, so it will be good to carry an extra bullpen guy and we’ll put Cesar Ramos back in the bullpen to give us some extra length down there, too.”
Both Leibrandt and Eshelman have pitched well this season, but both were longshots for a September callup. The reduction in their innings means it’s likely that the Phillies have no plans of giving either a look in the majors this season. Neither are on the 40-man roster, although Leibrandt will need to be added following the season to protect him in the Rule 5 Draft.