Phillies right-hander Mark Appel underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow and will miss the remainder of the 2016 season, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Appel had already been on the minor league disabled list due to a strain in his right shoulder, but Gelb writes that he incurred the elbow injury that necessitated today’s operation when he began throwing to work his way back from that shoulder issue. The injury comes with a recovery timeline of four to six months.
The Phillies picked up Appel as part of a five-player package from the Astros that sent Ken Giles and Jonathan Arauz to Houston. Appel joined the Phillies alongside Vincent Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer, Thomas Eshelman and Harold Arauz in that seven-player swap. The former No. 1 overall pick began the season quite well, pitching to a 1.64 ERA through the month of April and posting a solid 19-to-7 K/BB ratio through those 22 innings. However, Appel’s production took declined rapidly beginning in May, and he hasn’t pitched since he surrendered four runs in just two-thirds of an inning on the 22nd of that month. Overall, he’ll finish the season with a 4.46 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 through the 38 1/3 innings he was able to throw before falling to injury.
Appel hasn’t lived up to the expectations that come with a No. 1 overall pick, but he’s still just 24 years of age (25 next month) and has a fair amount of experience at the Triple-A level under his belt. While Philadelphia will probably monitor his innings in 2017 due to this season’s injury-driven light workload, it’s plausible that he could factor into the Phillies’ plans as soon as next season. Appel, along with Velasquez, Eshelman, Jerad Eickhoff, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Ben Lively, and Nick Pivetta represent a large staple of rotation options that the Phillies have acquired in trades over the past two years (in addition, of course, to right-hander Aaron Nola, who was selected seventh overall in the 2014 draft) as the team stocks up for a hopefully sustainable run of success. Appel currently ranks fourth among Phillies prospects, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo. He entered the season rated third among Phillies prospects on the rankings of ESPN’s Keith Law and seventh among Philadelphia farmhands in the eyes of Baseball America.