ALLENTOWN -- It's been an up and down path for Phillies pitching prospect Mark Appel, who on Monday saw upward progress for a day. Appel earned a confidence booster with five shutout innings as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, scored a 3-1 win over the visiting Louisville Bats in a Triple-A International League game at Coca-Cola Park.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander, allowed just two hits, while striking out two and walking two. He threw 69 pitches, 41 strikes.
During his previous two starts, Appel allowed 13 earned runs in a total of six innings.
"A game like this helps for sure," said Appel, now 3-2 with a 6.75 ERA. "I think it is a process, so I think just coming off the last couple of games where I really have been struggling, being able to go out and compete and I think my mindset was if I fail, I fail, but I am going to give everything I have and compete every pitch."
Appel's story has been well documented. He was the first overall pick of 2013 draft by the Houston Astros out of Stanford. Appel was dealt to the Phillies in the Ken Giles trade in December of 2015.
Last season for the IronPigs he got off to a good start with a 1.64 ERA in his first four starts but then had an 8.27 ERA in his next four before being placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain.
A month later, on June 29, he underwent season-ending surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.
This year, as his ERA indicates, Appel has had consistency problems. Monday's game was his second scoreless five-inning performance this month, but in between were those two aforementioned starts, where he allowed 13 earned runs.
"I think being able to go out and bounce back from a couple of bad outings was encouraging," Appel said.
So does IronPigs manager Dusty Wathan.
"I am really proud of him," said Wathan, whose 35-15 team is in first place in the International League North Division. "He struggled as of late and he really worked hard after his last start not only physically but mentally on things and it paid off for him today."
Wathan feels that Appel has the ability to succeed at the next level. As with any pitcher in the minors, it is all about consistency.
Definitely, the stuff is good enough, we have to get him to be a little more consistent with his stuff," Wathan said. "…You can say that for all these guys, it is kind of why they are here and not in the big leagues."
So Appel will keep battling and he hopes to build off Monday's performance.