Mark Appel Seeks To Take Command

CLEARWATER, Fla.—Though the spotlight does not shine on righthander Mark Appel as brightly as it once did, he remains a tantalizing curiosity in the organization and around baseball.

After being selected No. 1 overall by the Astros in 2013 and dealt to the Phillies in December 2015, Appel has been slow to live up to expectations, and his once-golden prospect label has dulled.

Fully recovered from surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow in June, the 25-year-old Stanford product believes he is poised to take a leap forward in 2017.

“There’s always the hope and dream of getting to the big leagues, but it doesn’t happen overnight,” Appel said. “Everybody kind of makes their own opportunity based on how they play. I know if I go out there and do the little things that I’ve been doing the last eight or nine months since surgery . . . that I’ll be there in no time.”

This is a big season for Appel, who likely will pitch at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he made eight starts and recorded a 4.46 ERA before surgery last season.

Appel believes his command has improved since the surgery. He spent a month in big league camp and in nine innings gave up seven hits and five runs.

“I’m seeing more quality in his pitches,” Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure said. “It looks like he’s going forward. He’s not scattering balls all over. His misses are not as frequent and not as bad as they were. I’m very pleased where he’s at, and he should be too.”

McClure said Appel’s goal for 2017 should be pitch efficiency. Former Phillies reliever Larry Andersen also stressed that to Appel during his time as an instructor in camp.

“We had some conversations about the mentality of pitching, and really just having confidence and not trying to throw a strike but knowing you’re going to throw a strike,” Appel said. “There’s a difference in knowing it in your head and kind of believing it in every fiber of your body.”


Outfielder Andrew Pullin’s audition in big league camp was cut short by an oblique strain.

• Roy Halladay, the 2010 Cy Young Award winner with the Phillies, was in camp working with pitchers on the physical and mental aspects of pitching. He will likely stay on during the season to work with minor leaguers.

— Jim Salisbury covers the Phillies for

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