The San Diego Padres got some terrible news on Wednesday afternoon as their top prospect, pitcher Casey Kelly, is almost certain to miss the entire 2013 season due to Tommy John elbow surgery. Kelly had tests on his elbow this week and while a definite course of action has yet to be determined, it appears the 23-year-old will end up having the surgery.
Kelly was the centerpiece of the trade between the Padres and Red Sox that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston in December of 2010. Since then he has widely been considered San Diego’s top prospect and a future top-of-the-rotation starter. He was limited to just 14 starts in the majors and minors last year thanks to an elbow strain that was not considered serious.
Padres manager Bud Black wouldn’t say that Kelly was going to have surgery on his elbow, but our sources have confirmed that it is almost a done deal. Kelly and his family will seek a second opinion, but barring some kind of miracle he will be out for the season. Twelve months is the standard recovery time for a pitcher having Tommy John surgery.
Black had the following to say about Kelly:
“We think a lot of Casey. He was definitely in the mix to be in our rotation. It’s a blow for the organization, a blow for Casey, because he’s been progressing well.”
Kelly was in competition to land the No. 5 spot in the Padres rotation and was the odds-on favorite to snag that spot. In six starts with San Diego last season he went 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA and 1.69 WHIP. That small sample size wasn’t encouraging, but at times Kelly did look excellent.
With Tommy John surgery becoming so common these days, there’s little doubt Kelly will be back and competing for a rotation spot next season. He simply has to much talent for this to sideline his entire career.
That said, this is a huge blow to the Padres who lost fellow top pitching prospects Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland to Tommy John surgery last summer. Both Luebke and Wieland are expected to make full recoveries and resume pitching soon.