Astros prospect Mark Appel dealing with tendinitis in his thumb

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With this year’s First-Year Player Draft underway, it only makes sense to check in on the progress of last year’s No. 1 pick, Mark Appel.

In case you haven’t noticed, Appel has had a rough go of things this season. The 22-year-old struggled to adapt to the Astros’ piggyback starter system with High-A Lancaster, giving up 10 runs on 17 hits and four walks over 13 innings before being sent to extended spring training. He made his return to Lancaster on Saturday and was rocked for 10 runs on 10 hits (including three home runs) over just 1 1/3 innings. It appears that we have an explanation for at least part of the struggles.

According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said that Appel was scratched from his start with Lancaster today due to tendinitis in his right thumb. The good news is that it’s not a major concern. He’s expected to resume throwing tomorrow and make his next start one week from today.

When the Astros drafted Appel No. 1 overall last June, many said that he could make his major league debut by the end of 2014. That looks doubtful right now, though it’s obviously way too soon to write him off for the long term. If anything, it functions as a reminder that nobody is a sure thing.

George Springer exits game with hamstring injury

George Springer
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Astros right fielder George Springer left Friday’s game with yet another injury, this one on a sliding catch attempt in the eighth inning. As Springer converged with Yuli Gurriel and Aledmys Díaz on a high pop-up, he slid into foul territory and appeared to be in moderate discomfort after getting up.

From the replay, it looked as through Springer might have felt some pain in his left hamstring, but the Astros have yet to comment on the exact nature or severity of his injury. After exiting the field, he was promptly replaced by Josh Reddick in the right field corner, while Tony Kemp entered the game to take over in left.

It’s been a rough month for the 29-year-old outfielder, who narrowly avoided a trip to the injured list after missing four games with lower back stiffness earlier this week. Following the Astros’ 4-3 win over the Red Sox, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters he’s “not looking forward to the diagnosis” this time around, and expects to place Springer on the IL until he can work back to full strength.