Angels prospect Packy Naughton has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 UCL sprain in his elbow, per Fabian Ardaya of the Athletic (via Twitter). Naughton is ranked 19th among prospects in the Angels’ system per Baseball America and 12th per MLB.com. Naughton joined the Angels at last year’s trade deadline from the Cincinnati Reds as part of the return for outfielder Brian Goodwin. He had been the Reds’ 20th-ranked prospect per Fangraphs’ mid-season report. Naughton will likely be shut down for a time, though he season would not be in jeopardy, given that a Grade 1 strain suggests there’s no tear in the elbow ligament. Still, any injury to the UCL raises the specter of Tommy John surgery, though jumping to that point would be premature at this time. It’s certainly an inopportune time for the 24-year-old. He wasn’t expected to compete for a rotation job, but he was likely ticketed for the Triple-A rotation, and therefore not too far down the line in terms of depth options for the Angels.
- In brighter news, Clarke Schmidt says he has “relieved” his elbow injury and he expects to be back in action soon, per Erik Boland of Newsday Sports (via Twitter). The 25-year-old made his Major League debut for the Yankees, albeit in just a 6 1/3 inning sample. Regardless, he is competing this spring for his place in the line behind the Yankees’ top five starters. Having made just three starts in Double-A to round out 2019, Schmidt undoubtedly would have spent 2020 in Triple-A, had there been a minor league season. As is, he’ll be in camp with other young arms like Deivi Garcia, Michael King, Luis Medina, and Nick Nelson, trying to prove themselves ready to step-in for a particularly injury-prone New York rotation. Schmidt was shut down just over a week ago for what was supposed to be 3-4 weeks, though it’s possible he returns to action sooner.
- After a difficult and vague leave of absence last spring, Twins’ southpaw Lewis Thorpe is healthy, back in camp, and in a better place mentally, writes the Athletic’s Dan Hayes. Said manager Rocco Baldelli, “I think the sky’s the limit for him. I think he’s a major-league starting pitcher that could definitely establish himself, at some point, hopefully in the very near future, and a guy that can throw a lot of innings. He’s got a very vast arsenal. He can do a lot of things with the baseball.” The Melbourne native has long been a guy with the tools to be a successful starter. Despite a 6.14 ERA/4.77 FIP across 44 big-league innings in 2019 and 2020, Thorpe is worth keeping an eye on. ZiPS is the most bullish of the projection systems, forecasting 106 innings and 1.1 fWAR at the Major League level. If nothing else, with injury concern baked in the back 60 percent of the Twins rotation (Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker), there is some room for some surprise production from someone in the Twins system.