Former No. 1 overall MLB draft pick Mark Appel, 26, announced an “indefinite break” from baseball in a long profile Bleacher Report on Thursday.
“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 said “I enjoy challenging my mind. My last four years in baseball have challenged my mind.”
Appel was drafted by the Houston Astros with the top pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, one spot ahead of 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant. At the time, the right-hander was expected to be the centerpiece of the Astros’ rebuilding project, which resulted in a World Series championship without him this past season.
Appel was instead traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in December 2015 and was part of the organization’s Triple-A team in 2017, recording a 5-4 record and a 5.27 ERA during 17 starts before being designated for assignment in November.
According to the article, Appel was sent a spring training welcome packet by the Phillies a few weeks ago, but he has since informed the organization about his intention to take a break from baseball.
The former top prospect hasn’t completely ruled out a return, but has acknowledged that a decision isn’t expected to come any time soon and may never happen at all. Appel told Bleacher Report that he is interested in traveling, possibly going back to school and being free to watch his friends play baseball, rather than take on the demanding schedule of a professional athlete.
“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.”
Appel currently has a 24-18 record and a 5.08 ERA during 81 career minor league appearances.
If he doesn’t attempt a comeback, he will be only the third No. 1 pick in the history of the MLB Draft to have never reached the major leagues.