Appel stepping away from baseball

February 1st, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- 's chances to live up to the hype as the first overall pick in the 2013 Draft dimmed some time ago. He officially ended those hopes last month, when he told the Phillies he is leaving baseball indefinitely.

"Mark reached out to us several weeks ago and informed us that he was not planning to attend Spring Training this year," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday in a statement. "After several additional conversations with him over the subsequent weeks, it became clear to us that Mark is making the best decision for himself and his family. The Phillies support Mark and his decision and want to wish him success in his future endeavors."

The Phils acquired Appel, 26, in a trade with the Astros in December 2015, sending closer and Jonathan Arauz to Houston for Appel, Vince Velasquez, , and Harold Arauz. Appel was not included in the original deal, but he was added after the Phillies had concerns about Velasquez's health. Outfielder , who emerged as a top prospect, had been part of the original trade.

But Appel struggled or battled elbow and shoulder injuries in two seasons in the Phils' organization. He made just 25 starts, posting a 4.46 ERA in eight starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2016 and a 5.27 ERA in 17 starts in '17.

If Appel never pitches again, he will join Brien Taylor (1991) and Steve Chilcott (1966) as the only first overall picks never to reach the big leagues.

Appel told Bleacher Report that he is at peace with that dubious distinction.

"If you want to call me the biggest Draft bust, you can call it that," Appel said. "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?"

The Phillies removed Appel from the 40-man roster in November. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. If he had continued his career, the Phils planned to have him compete this spring in Minor League camp as a relief pitcher. There are no indications Appel made his decision based on the Phillies' decision to move him to the bullpen.

Appel will be placed on the restricted list at the start of the 2018 season, preserving the Phils' rights and ensuring that any potential future comeback attempt will be made in a Phillies uniform. Philly does not have any reason to believe that Appel will change his mind.

Phillies sign Rosales

The Phillies announced Thursday they signed utility player to a Minor League contract. He has been invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.

Rosales, 34, has played everywhere except catcher and center field in his 10-year career. His versatility is noteworthy, as the Phils could carry an eight-man bullpen, meaning they will need their bench players to handle multiple positions. Rosales has a .656 OPS in 1,786 plate appearances in the big leagues. He played last season with Oakland and Arizona.