July 24: Burdi will indeed undergo Tommy John surgery, Hayes tweets. The operation will be performed this week and figures to sideline the hard-throwing righty for the majority of the 2018 campaign.
July 14: White Sox pitching prospect Zack Burdi is believed to have suffered a UCL tear that will require Tommy John surgery, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago first reported on Twitter. While he’ll first receive a second opinion, indications are that he’ll join his brother — Twins prospect Nick Burdi — in the lengthy TJ recovery process.
The younger Burdi landed with the White Sox organization after following his brother in posting a stellar run with the University of Louisville. Chicago grabbed Burdi with the 26th overall pick in last year’s draft — quite a steep position for a relief pitcher.
At the time, prospect watchers believed that Burdi could move quickly toward the majors. His triple-digit heater, quality slider, and serviceable change give him the arsenal of a closer; surely, the South Siders used that lofty pick in expectation that he’d become an elite pen arm.
Burdi sprinted through the Sox’ system last year, reaching Triple-A in his first professional season. The expectation heading into 2017 was that he’d finish off his preparation and potentially get his first taste of the big leagues at some point later in the current season.
Even before the injury, though, there was perhaps some cause to pump the brakes on Burdi’s rise. He has allowed fifteen earned runs on thirty hits and seventeen walks through his 33 1/3 innings at Charlotte this year, though he has also racked up 51 strikeouts.
Still, the plan obviously was for Burdi to begin making an MLB impact sooner than later. While the rebuilding White Sox can deal with some delay, a major injury to a significant prospect obviously constitutes disappointing news. If he does indeed require a new UCL, the 22-year-old will likely miss the entire 2018 season — though perhaps an Arizona Fall League assignment next year could be possible.