Mark Appel was the number one overall pick in the 2013 baseball draft, selected one slot ahead of Kris Bryant and 31 slots above Aaron Judge. He was selected by the Astros after a fantastic college career at Stanford and he was presumed to be the Astros’ future ace.
Appel was never able to put it together, however, largely due to a history of bone spurs and other ailments which have hindered his development. In five seasons in the minors he went 24-18 with a 5.06 ERA while allowing a lot of hits and walks and not striking out batters at a rate you’d expect from a good prospect. He was included in the trade that sent Ken Giles to Houston from Philly and Appel was no better in the Phillies system than he was in the Astros system. He posted a 5.27 ERA and 60/53 K/BB ratio over 82 Triple-A innings in 2017 and was designated for assignment by the Phillies in November.
Now Appel tells Joon Lee of Bleacher Report that he is taking an “indefinite break” from baseball, looking for internships in the private equity sector and applying to business schools in search of an MBA:
“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.”
Appel says he may still return to baseball — guys with his baseball pedigree have done time in prison before coming back to the game and finding success — but the odds of him ever making the majors at this point are long. While I’m pretty sure he could find work in the minors if he wanted to, he’s probably being realistic about his future.
Good luck, Mr. Appel.