What was supposed to be a season full of promise for Alex Reyes will not come to fruition.
The Cardinals announced Wednesday morning that MLB.com's No. 6 overall prospect will undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. The 22-year-old right-hander will miss the entire 2017 season as a result, making a return in time for Opening Day of the 2018 campaign a best-case scenario.
The No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball, Reyes had been held back from participating in the first throwing drills of Spring Training on Tuesday after he told team medical staff that he felt discomfort in his right elbow. He underwent an MRI scan, and the results revealed a complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. Those MRI results will be sent to Dr. James Andrews for a second look, but the diagnosis isn't expected to change. His surgery is scheduled for Thursday, barring any adjustments based on Dr. Andrews' opinion.
"It's obviously very disappointing," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told reporters. "We had very high expectations for him. But I guess if you're going to look at it from a timing standpoint, he has a year to do his rehab and get everything that he's dealing with back under control. Hopefully, he'll be back better than ever."
Reyes was expected to compete for the fifth spot in the Cardinals' rotation and likely was the favorite to win the job after posting a 1.57 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 23 walks over 46 innings in the Majors last season. The New Jersey native owned a 4.96 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 32 walks in 65 1/3 innings at Triple-A Memphis before joining the Cardinals for his big league debut on Aug. 9. Before the injury, his fastball regularly touched the upper 90s, while his curveball and changeup are both rated above-average.
Reyes was recently named to the Dominican Republic roster for the World Baseball Classic, though he will obviously not participate following Wednesday's news.
The hurler talked to MiLB.com last month about his decision to participate in the WBC, saying, "Yeah it was tough, just because you're going into Spring Training and this being my first big league camp. It's going to be new, not knowing what that brings, but ... I always wanted to represent my parents' country and go out there and compete with those guys. It will be a lot of fun and a huge honor."