An already mediocre Los Angeles Dodgers farm system suffered a blow on Tuesday when it was announced that right-handed pitching prospect Ross Stripling will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2014 season, writes Kevin Baxter of the LA Times. Stripling was ranked as the number seven prospect in the Dodgers farm system last month by Baseball Prospectus.
The elbow problem was not a lingering issue for Stripling that flared up again this spring the way it was for Miguel Sano, who is scheduled to undergo surgery sometime in the next week, but rather something that snuck up on Stripling about a week ago in an intersquad game. Because of the timing of the injury, it is unlikely that Stripling will return to action this year, but he should be ready for spring training next season.
For the 2014 Dodgers, Stripling did provide a certain amount of security in terms of organizational pitching depth that is slightly shallower than it was. Stripling isn't a high-ceiling prospect, but he is an extreme strike-thrower and was close to a finished product. Having spent most of the 2013 season in Double-A, he was targeted for Triple-A this season and would have been among those in reserve for when the Dodgers need additional starters at some point during the season.
With Tommy John surgery, the long road of recovery is often overlooked, and at this point, we now consider rehabilitation from the surgery to be a formality. In reality, it is anything but that, and despite a success rate well over 90 percent, there are still many obstacles for a pitcher to overcome. That being said. Stripling is a young pitcher with a mature frame, giving him as good of a chance as any pitcher to return to form.
At his best, Stripling profiles as a back-end starter who should have no trouble sticking in a big league rotation because of his ability to locate his fastball with precision, but lacks a truly high-end off-speed pitch. His injury shouldn't change that in the long-term, and mainly just pushes his timetable back a full calendar year.