Ken Giles

Phillies prospect Mark Appel stepping away from baseball

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Phillies prospect Mark Appel stepping away from baseball

Mark Appel, the former No. 1 overall pick acquired by the Phillies from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade, is stepping away from baseball.

Four months after being removed from the Phils' 40-man roster, Appel is taking an "indefinite break."

"I don't know what the future holds. I'm pursuing other things, but also trying to become a healthy human," Appel told Bleacher Report.

"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."

Appel's entire professional career has been a struggle. In five minor-league seasons, he had a 5.06 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, allowing nearly 10 hits per nine innings.

While he was in the Phillies' system, strike-throwing was a huge issue. In 122⅓ innings over two seasons on the Phils' farm, he walked 74 and struck out 94.

Appel, who missed most of 2016 after requiring elbow surgery, had consistent problems going deep into games, something that didn't sit well with an organization that has become increasingly focused on economy of pitches.

The Phillies acquired Appel from Houston on Dec. 12, 2015 along with Vince Velasquez, Tom Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer and Harold Arauz in exchange for Giles. At the time, it looked like a shrewd move for the Phils. Unfortunately, two years later, Appel is out of baseball and Velasquez is still very much a question mark, both from a health and efficiency standpoint.

As for Giles, he's a World Series champion. He pitched poorly in the playoffs but did have a 2.30 ERA with 34 saves in the regular season.

The Phillies pushed to acquire Appel in the Giles trade because of concerns over Velasquez's health history, per sources. The initial return package included Velasquez and young outfielder Derek Fisher, but because of the concerns with Velasquez, the Phils chose to fortify their return with more pitching. Appel was a prime change-of-scenery candidate, but the Phils swung and missed.

In two seasons with the Phillies, Velasquez has been limited to just 39 starts, going 10-13 with a 4.48 ERA and 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He's had three stints on the disabled list and was shut down at the end of the 2016 season.

Eshelman has progressed through the Phils' farm system and could end up making some starts in the majors in 2018. Last season, he went 13-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 23 starts, 18 of which came at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Eshelman, whose calling card is his control, struck out 102 and walked just 18 in 150 innings.

As for Appel, barring a surprise comeback, he will go down as one of the biggest busts in recent history. To his credit, he seems to be mentally moving past that.

Just like a closer, Ken Giles has odd way to get ready before a game

Just like a closer, Ken Giles has odd way to get ready before a game

They always say to be a closer, you've got to be a bit whacky.

Ken Giles seems to have that down.

The former Phillie always seemed to have the intensity and intimidation.

I mean, look at this ...

Well, add the peculiarity to his focus and arm.

Prior to Wednesday's game against his old club, Giles was getting the mind right with some important meditation in the Astros' bullpen, which you can watch in the video above.

As you can see, this guy is clearly meant for the ninth inning.

And, hey, when your team is 67-33 and 17½ games up in first place, you're allowed to be this loose.

Struggling Phillies prospect Mark Appel back on DL with shoulder strain

Struggling Phillies prospect Mark Appel back on DL with shoulder strain

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Thursday placed right-hander Mark Appel on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, a week after he was shelled in Syracuse and didn't make it out of the first inning.

The Phillies' 25-year-old, fading pitching prospect has had another rocky year. In 17 starts, he has a 5.27 ERA and 1.76 WHIP with 53 walks and 60 strikeouts in 82 innings.

In 25 starts in the Phillies' farm system since the Ken Giles trade, Appel has a 5.01 ERA and has walked 73 batters in 120⅓ innings. It's hard to imagine the Phillies ever giving Appel a legitimate shot to stick in the starting rotation if his command doesn't improve substantially.

Appel also missed time with a shoulder injury last season and it was during his rehab program that he hurt his elbow and required season-ending surgery.