Rays pitching prospect Jose De Leon has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John Surgery, according to a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The right-hander is expected to miss all of the 2018 season:
BREAKING: #Rays RHP Jose De Leon has torn UCL, headed for Tommy John surgery— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 7, 2018
The bad injury news continues for the Rays, as De Leon is now the second Tampa Bay starter to require Tommy John surgery this winter; coveted prospect Brent Honeywell underwent successful surgery in late February. The club, already decimated at the big league level due to recent trades, now has lost some of their valuable pitching depth in what is shaping up to be a very long 2018 season at The Trop.
The Rays acquired De Leon last winter from the Dodgers in exchange for second baseman/utility man Logan Forsythe in a rare one-for-one swap. De Leon, 25, was once a highly-touted prospect—ranking 29th in Baseball America’s 2017 preseason Top 100 Prospects list—but has recently fallen out of most rankings due to a frustrating 2017 season.
Injury issues are nothing knew for the Puerto Rican, as De Leon dealt with elbow tendinitis and a mild late strain in 2017, severely limiting his workload throughout the season. De Leon combined to throw just 38.1 innings across three minor league levels, struggling to a 6.75 ERA and 1.667 WHIP. In his brief 2.2-inning stint in the majors, De Leon allowed three earned runs and walked three batters.
Interestingly, TB Times’ Topkin reported earlier today (before De Leon news broke) that the Rays would explore a four-man rotation for most of the upcoming season.
#Rays Cash just said they could go with 4-man rotation all season, filling in with bullpen guys when needed to start— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 7, 2018
With Honeywell and De Leon out of the picture, and Jake Odorizzi dealt to the Twins, the Rays have few options left to log heavy innings on the mound in 2018. As of today, a four-man rotation would consist of Chris Archer, Jacob Faria, Blake Snell, and Nathan Eovaldi. Long reliever Matt Andriese figures to be a main candidate for spot starts throughout the course of the year.