LAKELAND, Fla. -- Right-hander Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall Draft pick who's been behind schedule this spring after undergoing an appendectomy, threw off the mound on Saturday for the second time this week without any problems, according to general manager Jeff Luhnow.
Luhnow said Appel will face hitters one time before getting into his first Grapefruit League action, which could come next Friday or Saturday.
"We're going to be very careful when it comes to his progression," manager Bo Porter said. "It's good to see he's graduated to the mound and he's getting closer to [getting] into some game action."
Appel is a non-roster invitee to big league camp this spring, after making his pro debut last year with 10 effective starts at two of Houston's Class A affiliates. But after throwing only one side session, he underwent the emergency appendectomy at the end of January.
Luhnow said he still hopes Appel can break camp on a Minor League roster, likely Class A Lancaster.
"But we'll have to see," Luhnow said. "First of all, we'll have to make sure he's ready to start with a team. It may make sense to continue to build him up at extended [spring training] for a week or so. We're hoping he'll be game ready when the club breaks."