Rays top pitching prospect Taylor Guerrieri underwent Tommy John elbow surgery Wednesday and will miss the remainder of the season, according to a report.
Guerrieri, the Rays' No. 2 prospect behind Wil Myers, underwent the surgical procedure on his right elbow Wednesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The report said Guerrieri met with noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday morning in Pensacola, Fla., after feeling discomfort in his elbow, and a decision was made to move ahead with the surgery for Wednesday afternoon.
The news means Guerrieri, 20, will likely be sidelined for most of the 2014 season as recovery typically takes about a year. The Rays, likely to play it safe with their top-ranked arm, hope Guerrieri can return by the end of the 2014 season, but it's likely he may not take the mound in a Minor League game again until 2015, according to the Times.
"Thanks for all the support everybody," Guerrieri Tweeted on Wednesday evening. "Much appreciated. I'll be back and better than ever."
The 6-foot-3 right-hander was 6-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 14 starts this season before being placed on the seven-day disabled list July 21 with Class A Bowling Green in the Midwest League.
Guerrieri complained of elbow soreness in his last start on July 15 at Cedar Rapids and was removed after throwing two innings.
"He threw the pitch, and you could see him grimace right after," Bowling Green manager Jared Sandberg told MiLB.com. "We all went out there, and there was no real debate as to whether to keep him out there. We took him out. He didn't fight it at all or anything like that. I wasn't a pitcher, but any time you feel something in your elbow, it's a concern. This guy's a fighter and a fierce competitor, but he trusts the organization and the doctors, so we'll see where we go from here."
The Rays' first-round pick in 2011 debuted last year and went 1-2 with a 1.04 ERA in a dozen starts in helping Class A Short-Season Hudson Valley win the New York-Penn League championship. He earned Midwest League Pitcher of the Week honors on May 13 and was selected to the 2013 All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field this month but did not participate.
He had not allowed an earned run in five consecutive starts since June 2 and had struck out 51 batters in 67 innings this season.
Tommy John surgery, now a common procedure for pitchers, is when the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from somewhere else in the body.
The Rays selected Guerrieri, known for his plus sinking fastball, out of Spring Valley (S.C.) High School with the No. 24 pick in the 2011 Draft. He received a $1.6 million signing bonus and he entered the 2013 season ranked as MLB.com's No. 44 prospect.
Guerrieri joins fellow Rays prospects Hak-Ju Lee and Alex Colome on the disabled list and is the highest-ranked prospect to undergo Tommy John surgery since Orioles' No. 1 Dylan Bundy had it on June 26. Padres No. 2 prospect Rymer Liriano, an outfielder, underwent the surgery in Spring Training before Casey Kelly, the Padres' No. 3 prospect, had it done on April 2. Yankees No. 5 prospect Manny Banuelos underwent surgery last October, joining the Nationals' Matt skole, the Twins' Alex Wimmers and the Padres' Joe Wieland as recent notable patients.
Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com.