Shae Simmons has been regarded as a promising right-handed pitching prospect, however he has struggled to remain healthy and experienced another setback this offseason. The Braves officially announced that Simmons successfully underwent Tommy John surgery on Thursday, and the club also added that he will miss the entire regular season.
Thought to be a key part of Atlanta's pitching core moving forward, Simmons tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. Simmons, 24, posted a 2.93 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 21.2 innings pitched last season, but was ultimately placed on the disabled list on July 29 as a result of a sore shoulder. Although the Braves were optimistic with regard to the possibility of Simmons returning last season, he did not take the mound again in 2014.
According to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Simmons "ramped up" his offseason throwing program 10 days ago. After throwing consistently, Simmons noted it was his elbow, not his shoulder, that was troubling him. A subsequent MRI revealed the ligament tear, and Simmons underwent the surgery on Thursday in Florida at Dr. James Andrews' clinic.
Before Simmons experienced the discomfort and decided to have the MRI, the Braves were confident he would compete for a spot in their bullpen in 2015. Simmons' 23/11 K/BB Ratio and his notable velocity led to the club hoping he would be a key middle relief option moving forward. Rehab for Tommy John surgery ranges from 12 to 18 months, with the Braves hoping Simmons will get healthy sooner rather than later.
Simmons quickly advanced throughout Atlanta's minor league system, posting a 1.69 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over three minor league seasons. Sporting News notes Simmons said had not experienced any discomfort since August. After realizing Simmons would not pitch in 2015, the Braves were quick to add Jose Veras, Matt Capps, and Todd Coffey to the bullpen mix over the last few days.