UPDATE (Wednesday): Reyes will indeed undergo Tommy John surgery, general manager John Mozeliak announced to reporters Tuesday morning. Reyes will miss the entire season.
ORIGINAL (Tuesday): Pitchers and catchers just reported, but the St. Louis Cardinals starting rotation is already in trouble. Earlier this morning, news broke that Alex Reyes, the #1 overall prospect in baseball according to the list Baseball Prospectus released just yesterday, had not been cleared to start throwing because of soreness in his right elbow. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Reyes had been sent for an MRI. Then, Sirius radio personality Chris Mish dropped this bombshell:
I am told : Potentially season ending injury for Alex Reyes. Tough tough blown for Cardinals.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) February 14, 2017
Ken Rosenthal of FOX confirmed that report, noting that Reyes will likely require Tommy John surgery and will seek a second opinion in the near future.
This is a massive blow to the Cardinals, who were counting on the 22 year old to step into their starting rotation in 2017. Reyes had a stellar 1.57 ERA in the Majors last year, with 52 strikeouts and only a single home run allowed in 46 innings. National Leaguers managed to hit just .201/.298/.280 off of the potential ace. While those numbers were certain to balance out over the course of a full season, but there was little doubt that Reyes was on the verge of something special.
Reyes’ loss does not completely decimate the Cardinals’ rotation, as the club still has a solid projected starting five of Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Mike Leake, Lance Lynn and Michael Wacha, with Trevor Rosenthal, John Gant and prospect Luke Weaver in the mix as well. Weaver struggled with the long ball in his debut last year, allowing seven homers in 36 innings and posting a 5.70 ERA, but struck out 45 batters and has electric velocity.
There are also some potential options available on the free agent market. Doug Fister and Jorge de la Rosa are both unsigned, but may not have anything left in the tank. Colby Lewis is also available; he isn’t an exciting option, but would at least keep the Cardinals afloat as they chase the NL Wild Card.
The Cardinals could also try to trade for a starting pitcher. The White Sox have been trying to find a place for Jose Quintana, for instance, and the Twins would presumably be willing to talk about Ervin Santana. But the Cardinals farm system is not particularly strong at the moment (Keith Law ranked them 13th last month), and the club had their first two picks in this year’s amateur draft stripped because their former scouting director hacked the Houston Astros database.
In all, things are crazy in Jupiter right now considering the timing of the injury, and it could be a hugely disappointing season for a franchise that has only had one losing season since the millennium.