When the Phillies traded closer Ken Giles to the Houston Astros, the team received five pitchers in return as part of the trade.  One of them was drafted in the first round with the first pick, even before Kris Bryant, the star third baseman of the Chicago Cubs.  But by the time the Phillies ended up with pitcher Mark Appel, he was already much more of a question mark than he was a certainty.  Wednesday, Appel announced that he would be stepping away from baseball.

Appel told his story in an exclusive piece by Joon Lee of Bleacher Report.  Appel seemed to lose the love of the game and is motivated to perhaps do something else.

"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," Appel says. "I enjoy challenging my mind. My last four years in baseball have challenged my mind."

Appel expressed his frustration with poor pitching performances:

"I go out and pitch, and it's the same thing every time. I can't get an out," Appel says. "Walk. Hit. Walk. Hit. Then I'm out of the game. What just happened? Now it's like I have four days before I get my hopes up again, get excited, build that confidence, not caring what happened in the past. Then the same thing happens again."

While Appel is stepping away, he has not used the word "retired".

The Phillies designated Appel's contract for assignment this offseason and he went unclaimed.  His former team won the World Series without him, something that certainly left an impression on him, reading Joon's piece.  The Phillies planned to bring Appel into Spring Training and try to work him into a reliever.  That will not happen now.

Joon chronicles much of Appel's long road towards this decision.  The whole piece may be read here.