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May 27, 2016

Former top pick Appel placed on DL; Lively promoted

Former No.1 overall pick Mark Appel will be sidelined at Triple-A with a right shoulder strain.

Appel was placed on the disabled list on Friday morning by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Fellow right-hander Ben Lively was called up from Double-A Reading to take Appel’s place in the ‘Pigs rotation.

Appel, who turns 25 in July, was the top pick by the Houston Astros in the 2013 draft. (He was selected 8th overall by Pittsburgh the previous year, but elected to stay at Stanford University for another year).

Appel didn’t lived up to his top pick billing in his 2 1/2 seasons in the Astros organization and was a part of the package Houston sent to the Phillies in the December trade that sent Ken Giles to Minute Maid Park. Appel had a 4.37 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A and Triple-A last season in the Astros system, striking out 110 batters but also walking 51 in 132 2/3 innings.

Appel’s walk rate has been worse this season: among International League pitchers with at least seven starts, Appel’s 4.7 walk rate (walks per nine innings) is the fourth highest in the league.

Appel is 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.565 WHIP in eight starts with the Pigs, striking out 34 batters while walking 20 in 38 1/3 innings. His WHIP is the fifth highest in the league among pitchers with at least seven starts.

The IronPigs had lost five consecutive games Appel had started before he was placed on the DL. He had a 6.65 ERA and had issued 15 walks (while striking out 20) in that five-game span (21 2/3 innings).

His velocity had reportedly dropped in his most recent start.

Lively, also 24, is more than worth of a promotion. Acquired in the December 2014 trade that sent Marlon Byrd to the Cincinnati Reds, Lively was 7-0 with a 1.87 ERA in nine starts with Reading, striking out 49 while walking 15 in 53 innings.

Lively’s 0.943 WHIP was the best in the Eastern League among pitchers with at least seven starts. He ranked third in ERA and 10th in K/BB rate (3.27).

Lively won't be the only new player suiting up for the 'Pigs tonight in Allentown: left-hander Mario Hollands and outfielder Cody Asche are taking their minor league rehab assignments to Triple-A. Earlier this week, Asche said he was eager to prove he can be counted on again in the Phillies regular lineup; he could join the Phillies when they return home from Chicago.

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