Mark Appel to return to spring action on Monday

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Astros pitching prospect Mark Appel has been out since a March 5 appearance against the Phillies due to a strained right forearm. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports the Astros expect Appel to return on Monday in a split-squad game against the Nationals.

Appel, the Astros’ first-round pick (first overall) in the 2013 draft, allowed a run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts against the Phillies on March 5. He will begin the season in the minor leagues, but GM Jeff Luhnow said in November there is a possibility the right-hander could make his major league debut in 2015.

Last season, between Single-A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi, Appel posted a 6.91 ERA with a 78/24 K/BB ratio in 83 1/3 innings. Most of the damage came with Lancaster; his results were much better following a late-July promotion to Corpus Christi.