Top draft prospect Michael Matuella, a Duke University righty, has torn his ulnar collateral ligament and will undergo Tommy John surgery, Keith Law of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. He had been tabbed as a possible first overall pick.
Matuella joins last year’s number one choice, Brady Aiken, as premium amateur arms requiring UCL replacements this offseason. The news has put a significant damper on a draft class that was already receiving less-than-stellar reviews.
Of course, we have seen some added willingness on the part of teams to take risks on players coming off of a TJ procedure. As Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper notes, last year’s draft included two prominent first-round choices who received big bonuses despite the surgery: Jeff Hoffman, who went 9th overall to the Blue Jays, and Erick Fedde, who went at 18 to the Nationals. And we have seen significant guarantees given to still-rehabbing pitchers, with the Royals along inking Luke Hochevar and Kris Medlen.
But there is little doubt that the added risk will have an impact on the earning capacity of Matuella. Cooper does note on Twitter that at least some clubs actually have greater long-term concern with back issues for the right-hander. BA’s John Manuel and Hudson Belinsky further discussed Matuella’s draft status in an interesting piece.