Dylan Bundy entered the season as the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball. Now, sadly, the 20-year-old may not take the mound for the next year.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, Bundy has been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and will have Dr. James Andrews perform season-ending surgery on Thursday.
Bundy first experienced a “mild elbow tightness” during spring training that was believed to be related to his right flexor mass. However, the discomfort resurfaced when he began a throwing program in April and ultimately led to an appointment with Andrews.
On April 29, Bundy received a platelet-rich plasma injection and was ordered to rest for six weeks before starting another throwing program. But just when it seemed as though the right-hander might work his way back from the unexpected injury, the elbow discomfort returned on Monday while throwing from 120 feet on flat ground.
And after he was re-examined by Andrews on Wednesday, the original fear still lingering in the back of our minds became an unfortunate reality: Dylan Bundy needs a new elbow.
Even though Bundy is a physical specimen who trains exceptionally hard and applies his strength toward a clean and repeatable delivery, he was also forced to throw 484 pitches between two games over four days as a high school junior.
That type of inhumane workload will destroy any pitcher’s elbow and shoulder, so it’s really not a surprise that he’s experiencing a problem at this stage of his career.
However, we’re not talking about a garden-variety pitching prospect coming back from elbow surgery. Bundy has the ceiling of a Cy Young-caliber pitcher, and as has been the case since the Orioles signed him in 2011, they will always handle him with extreme care.
Assuming the surgery is successful—let’s be real, we’re talking about Dr. James Andrews—Bundy probably won’t pick up a baseball until February or March. And based on the standard timeline of recovery from Tommy John surgery, it’s a safe bet that he won’t take the mound until the second half of the 2014 season.
Due to all the setbacks, it had reached a point where they likely weren’t expecting much, if anything, from Bundy this season.
Even if he had recovered—or at least not experienced a setback—and been cleared to play in games by early May, the possibility of worsening the injury with an unnecessary workload would have likely kept him out even longer.
Obviously, the Orioles would have benefited from his presence in the starting rotation at some point this season. However, ensuring he has a long and healthy career with the organization is what matters the most.