Earlier today, Anderson Espinoza and the Padres received the gut-wrenching news that the nineteen year old right-hander will require Tommy John Surgery to repair a torn UCL, per a report by Dennis Lin of the San Diego Tribune:
Anderson Espinoza has a torn UCL. He will undergo Tommy John surgery next week.
— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) July 29, 2017
Acquired last July in the Drew Pomeranz deal, Espinoza quickly vaulted to the top of organization’s prospect rankings, boasting a repertoire with three plus pitches, including a grade 70 fastball. His surface numbers at Fort Wayne after the trade were unspectacular, but his 3.17 FIP suggested he was the recipient of some bad luck; yet, at such a young age, baseball pundits were tantalized by his raw talent and development, projecting his ceiling as high as about any other pitching prospect with that distance from the majors.
This season, Espinoza started off the year on the disabled list with “forearm tightness,” but to quell any concerns of a more serious injury, A.J. Preller informed the media that Espinoza’s injury was “not ligament related or elbow related.” Despite Preller’s assurances, Espinoza was shut down few weeks later with elbow soreness as he restarted his throwing program.
News remained scarce after that, with vague notes causing the potential outlook to grow dimmer by the day, and then when Lin noted that Espinoza felt off today, it led many to believe the gravity of the injury to be far worse than originally noted.
Now, as a result of the lingering injury this season and the impending surgery, Espinoza will now likely lose two years of development time, pushing his expected arrival with the Big League squad even further into the future. Hopefully, he’ll be able make a return to some limited game-action around this time next season.