Mark Appel is stepping away from the game.
Mark Appel, the former Stanford ace and No. 1 pick of the 2013 MLB Draft, is taking an "indefinite break" from baseball at the age of 26.
Appel revealed his decision in a long profile with Bleacher Report this morning. If he never returns to the game, he'll become only the third No. 1 overall pick to never reach the major leagues.
"I'm 26, I have a Stanford degree, I have many interests beyond baseball, which I still love, but I have a lot of things I care about," Appel told Bleacher Report. "I enjoy challenging my mind. My last four years in baseball have challenged my mind."
Appel's career had been marred by injuries and ineffectiveness. Drafted by the Houston Astros with the first overall pick in 2013, he was supposed to anchor the team's rebuild but instead was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in December 2015.
Appel made 17 starts for the Phillies' Triple-A team in 2017, going 5-4 with a 5.27 ERA. He was designated for assignment by Philadelphia in November.
The full Bleacher Report story is a tough one to read at times, and certainly makes Appel a sympathetic figure. However, he seems to be adjusting well to his new life.
He could still return to the game at some point, but right now sounds like he's excited to be able to try his hand in other ventures.
The Phillies sent him their spring training welcome packet a few weeks back, before he talked with the team about his intention of taking a break from baseball. He hasn't ruled out coming back one day, but that's a decision for down the road, and a day that may never come. He loves the possibilities of travel, the prospect of going back to school and the idea that he can go around the country and watch his friends play baseball. He loves his reality.
"Sometimes you wonder what would what happen if one thing changed, how different your life would be," Appel says. "It makes me realize there's great intention [in] everything that's gotten you to where you are. But sometimes, you end up exactly where you're supposed to be."
As it stands, Appel's minor league stat line consists of 81 appearances (78 starts), a 24-18 record and a 5.06 ERA.
Whether or not he ever pitches again, we want to wish him best of luck in the future.