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January 25, 2017

Phillies prospect retires after losing eye following freak accident last summer

Former Phillies second-round pick Matt Imhof, who lost his right eye in a freak accident seven months ago, announced his retirement from baseball in a first-person story for on Tuesday morning.

Imhof, a 23-year-old left-hander drafted out of Cal-Poly State in 2014, and the Phillies second pick after selecting Aaron Nola in the first round, had to have his severely damaged eye removed in surgery last June. Imhof suffered the injury when a metal piece of stretch band equipment struck him in the face after a game in Brevard County, Fla., on June 25.

Here's an excerpt from Imhof's story on the accident, the recovery, and his ultimate decision to walk away from the game:

I'm a firm believer that baseball, through all my struggles on and off the field, prepared me for this moment. But the greatest thing baseball ever did for me was teach me who I could be without it.

To be completely honest, I don't know what is next for me. I want a career that allows me to make a positive impact on the community, but I'm still trying to find the best fit. I re-enrolled in classes at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I'm currently finishing my degree in business finance and I'm the undergraduate assistant pitching coach to the baseball program. I don't know if my career lies in coaching or in business, but I do know that I cherish every moment I'm able to step on the diamond and help these kids achieve their dreams. I have never doubted my ability to be successful in life and I don't plan on starting now; whether it's a baseball field or a boardroom, I know my future is bright.

With that in mind, I would like to announce my retirement from the game of baseball. I know many of you want me to continue my career, and to those people I would like to say thank you. My injury is not what's stopping me. I made this choice after six months because I wanted to be sure of that.

Imhof was in his second full season in the Phillies system in 2016 and was making the transition into a relief role at Class A Clearwater last summer before the injury. He was 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 43 games (38 starts) in his pro career.

Imhof’s injury and initial recovery touched many Phillies fans last summer when he posted a touching message on his Instagram account after his right eye had been removed in surgery.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21