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Former No. 1 pick Mark Appel reaches Triple-A in return, promoted to Lehigh Valley


Mark Appel was promoted to Triple-A on Thursday (Cheryl Pursell)

Former top draft selection Mark Appel has reached another step in his comeback to baseball.

The right-hander was promoted to the Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, as announced by his Double-A ballclub on Thursday.

Appel, the first pick in the 2013 draft, returned to pitching professionally this year after taking a hiatus prior to the 2018 season. He had been playing for the Class AA Reading Fightin Phils since the start of the Minor League Baseball season.

The 29-year-old’s return was largely a struggle early on. Appel has made eight appearances so far in 2021, pitching to a 5.84 ERA in 24 2/3 innings. However, he is coming off his best outing as a Fightin.

On Saturday, Appel started against the Harrisburg Senators in a game Reading ended up losing 5-3, throwing five scoreless innings. He struck out four and allowed just one hit.

Appel first played for Lehigh Valley in 2016, his first season in the Phillies organization after being traded from the Houston Astros, and again in 2017. He had a 4.24 combined ERA in 27 appearances with the IronPigs.

Prior to the start of the 2021 season, Appel spoke about some of his expectations for his return.

“Just to get better and have fun,” he said in May at Reading Fightins media day. “There’s no real expectations as far as what levels I’m playing at or anything.”

It may not have been his primary goal, but Appel has made it to the Triple-A level once again.

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