Orioles outfielder DJ Stewart underwent a microfracture procedure on his right ankle today, the team announced. He’s expected to be able to resume baseball activities near the end of Spring Training, so today’s surgery places his Opening Day readiness in jeopardy.
It’s a tough setback for the 2015 first-round pick (25th overall to Baltimore), who mashed at a .291/.396/.548 clip while belting 12 home runs, 19 doubles and a pair of triples in 277 Triple-A plate appearances. Stewart’s impressive showing there netted him some time at the MLB level for the second straight season; in 189 plate appearances as a big leaguer, he’s slashed .241/.323/.422 with seven home runs.
Stewart has exhausted his prospect status at this point, though he entered the season generally regarded as one of the organization’s 15 best farmhands. There are some questions about his ultimate defensive home, given that he’s regarded a below-average runner and defender in both corner outfield spots. But Stewart has routinely demonstrated excellent plate discipline, pairing that with relatively low strikeout rates and solid power numbers. This latest surgery certainly doesn’t do anything to enhance his defensive outlook moving forward, but he’s the type of MLB-ready bat that should get an earnest look next season as the Orioles continue into the second full season of what looks to be a lengthy rebuilding process.