Rangers pitching prospect Ricky Vanasco will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow next week, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets. The timing of the surgery will likely wipe out all of Vanasco’s 2021 season.
It’s a tough blow to what was already regarded as a rather thin farm system. Vanasco, 22 next month, ranked as the Rangers’ No. 13 prospect at Baseball America, also placing 18th at MLB.com and 24th at FanGraphs. BA’s report on the hard-throwing young righty noted that he sits mid-90s with a heater that has touched 99 mph, in addition to displaying good feel for spinning his curveball. FanGraphs noted some trepidation about his “extremely violent” delivery but called him a potential high-leverage reliever.
Vanasco was a 15th-round pick in 2017 but turned heads last year when he pitched to a combined 1.81 ERA with a 75-to-25 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings (11 total appearances — all starts). He’d likely have ascended to Double-A in 2020 under circumstances, but spent the season working out at the alternate training site in the absence of a minor league campaign. As such, Vanasco wasn’t completely deprived of developmental work in 2020, but it’s nevertheless still a notable setback in the promising young righty’s path to big league readiness that he’ll go two years without pitching in a truly competitive setting.