Phillies minor-leaguer Mark Appel says he's 'stepping away'

Matt Breen, Staff Writer

Updated: Thursday, February 1, 2018, 2:59 PM

Mark Appel, pitching during spring training last year.

Phillies minor-league pitcher Mark Appel says he is probably the biggest bust in MLB history as he takes an “indefinite break” from baseball just five years after the Houston Astros drafted him first overall.

Appel, in an interview with Bleacher Report, said he is unsure if he will play again. The Phillies removed the 26-year-old righthander from the 40-man roster in November and he was expected to transition to the bullpen this season at triple-A Lehigh Valley. Appel missed most of last season with shoulder and elbow injuries.

“It depends on how you define it, but I probably am [a bust],” Appel told Bleacher Report. “I had high expectations. I didn’t live up to those for a number of reasons. If you want to call me the biggest draft bust, you can call it that. … If I never get to the big leagues, will it be a disappointment? Yes and no. That was a goal and a dream I had at one point, but that’s with stipulations that I’m healthy, I’m happy, and doing something I love. If I get to the big leagues, what’s so great about the big leagues if you’re in an isolated place, you’re hurt, and you’re emotionally unhappy? How much is that worth to you?”

Appel was the obvious No. 1 pick in 2013 after he was the college pitcher of the year at Stanford. Pittsburgh drafted him No. 8 a year earlier, but Appel opted to return to Stanford. He struggled with his hometown Astros, compiling a 5.12 ERA over four minor-league seasons. Houston shipped him to the Phillies in December 2015 as part of the trade that sent Ken Giles to the Astros, and Appel’s struggles continued.

“I don’t know what the future holds. I’m pursuing other things, but also trying to become a healthy human,” Appel said. “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. I enjoy challenging my mind. My last four years in baseball have challenged my mind.”

The return in the Giles trade — the first major move made by Phillies general manager Matt Klentak — now hinges on righthanders Vince Velasquez and Tom Eshelman. Velasquez is expected to be in the starting rotation after having finger surgery last August. Eshelman, the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year, will compete in spring training for a spot in the rotation.

Minor signing

The Phillies announced Thursday that they have invited infielder Adam Rosales to spring training on a minor-league contract. Rosales will compete in camp with Pedro Florimon and Jesmuel Valentin for a bench role as a utility infielder. The 34-year-old has played parts of 10 seasons in the majors and batted .225 last season with a .260 on-base percentage in 289 at-bats with Oakland and Arizona.

Matt Breen, Staff Writer

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