Adrian Cardenas was a Phillies first-round pick in 2006 and established himself as a solid second base prospect, getting traded to the A’s for Joe Blanton in mid-2008.
He hit .292 at Triple-A and got a cup of coffee with the Cubs last season, appearing in 45 games as a 24-year-old, but decided not to play this season and is now retired.
And he wrote a really interesting essay for The New Yorker about why he called it quits so young, including this excerpt:
I quit because baseball was sacred to me until I started getting paid for it. The more that “baseball” became synonymous with “business,” the less it meant to me, and I saw less of myself in the game every time I got a check from the Philadelphia Phillies Organization, the Oakland Athletic Company, or the Chicago Cubs, L.L.C. To put it simply, other players were much better than I was at separating the game of baseball from the job of baseball. They could enjoy the thrill of a win—as it should be enjoyed—without thinking of what it meant to the owners’ bottom lines. These players, at once the objects of my envy and my admiration, are the resilient ones, still in the game. I am no longer one of them.
You should definitely read the whole thing, because it’s a fascinating glimpse into something most of us could never understand and Cardenas might have a future as a writer.