The Rangers will be without one of their top pitching prospects for all of the 2020 season, as the organization announced Monday that lefty Brock Burke will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair fraying and a partial tear in the labrum of his left shoulder this week. He’s not expected to pitch again until 2021.
Burke wasn’t projected to crack the Opening Day roster, but he would’ve functioned as a key depth piece for the club’s reworked rotation. He’s already on the 40-man roster and made his MLB debut last August — shortly after his 23rd birthday. Burke struggled in six big league starts (22 runs in 26 2/3 innings), but he posted a 3.90 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a minuscule 0.4 HR/9 across three minor league levels last year. The Rangers initially acquired him from the Rays in last offseason’s three-team swap that sent Jurickson Profar to Oakland.
Texas’ offseason acquisitions of Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles pushed Burke and fellow left-hander Kolby Allard out of the rotation mix early in the season, but both pitchers were one big league injury away from being summoned from Triple-A Nashville to the newly constructed Globe Life Field in Arlington. Earlier this winter, Baseball America ranked Burke 21st among Rangers prospects — the same slot he occupied on FanGraphs’ most recent ranking of the Texas minor league system. He’s generally regarded as a potential back-of-the-rotation starter who gets by with average across-the-board stuff rather than a particular plus offering.
Burke will likely be placed on the 60-day injured list to open a 40-man roster spot at some point this spring, thus positioning him to accrue a full year of Major League service time while he rehabs from Friday’s upcoming procedure. That’s surely not the way that the Rangers would’ve preferred to open a 40-man spot, but the club does have several non-roster invitees in camp who stand a realistic chance of making the team. Matt Duffy, Greg Bird, Sam Travis, Cody Allen, Blake Swihart, Edinson Volquez, Juan Nicasio and Derek Law are among the notable non-roster players in big league camp with Texas in 2020.