The 2017 season was meant to be Alex Kirilloff's first full campaign in pro ball. Instead, it will be more of a roadblock in his development.
The Twins' No. 3 prospect will undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, the club announced Wednesday. MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger added that there will be a nine-month rehab process for the 19-year-old outfielder and that he could begin "baseball activity" in five months. That's shorter than the typical Tommy John rehab timeline of 12-16 months associated with pitchers due to the difference in workload on the elbow.
A native of the Pittsburgh area, Kirilloff was selected by the Twins with the 15th overall pick in last year's Draft and signed at slot value for $2,817,000.
The left-handed-hitting slugger thrived in his first taste of the pros and was named Appalachian League Player of the Year after hitting .306/.341/.454 with seven homers, one triple, nine doubles and 33 RBIs in 55 games for Rookie-level Elizabethton. His season came to a premature end on Aug. 28 when he experienced elbow discomfort. Bollinger noted that Kirilloff got a platelet-rich plasma injection this offseason, but when the symptoms came back in the spring, the decision was made to go with Tommy John surgery to take care of the issue.
Kirilloff was recently ranked as the No. 98 overall prospect in baseball by MLB.com, which also gave him an above-average 55 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale for his hit tool and average 50 grades in the remaining four categories. Should surgery and rehab go smoothly, he should continue to be a solid hitter with decent power, but it'll be interesting to see how his arm is affected, particularly after he played most of his games in right field last season.
The Twins have some experience with top position-player prospects undergoing Tommy John. Miguel Sano required the procedure before the 2014 season -- interestingly, the announcement on Kirilloff came exactly three years after the news of Sano's surgery broke -- and did not come back until April 9, 2015 with Double-A Chattanooga.