In the span of a little less than a week, the top two pitching prospects in the 2015 draft class have been felled with season-ending injuries.
First, left-hander Brady Aiken announced he underwent Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow on The Players’ Tribune. The surgery was qualified by Aiken as a success. Then on April 1st, Duke right-hander Michael Matuella also announced he would be going under the knife, also for TJ surgery.
Scouts noticed a dip in Matuella’s velocity and an increase in stretching in between pitches during his last start, which saw him as his most ineffective all season.
Despite the recovery period of about 18 months, the surgery shouldn’t have much of an impact on Aiken, who was not only widely regarded as the top pitching prospect in this year’s class, but also the first overall selection in last year’s draft.
Matuella’s stock is another matter. He’s endured numerous health setbacks during his time at Duke, including an arthritic condition in his back. His stuff is top-notch, and he appeared likely to be the second pitcher off the board, but concerns about his health could cause him to drop out of the first round altogether.
Regardless of how far each prospect falls, this is a situation that no doubt affects teams picking in the top-ten. It also increases the appeal of several other college arms, including right-hander Dillon Tate, who is now seen by many as a top-ten pick.