It’s all just very deflating.
The White Sox announced Monday that Nate Jones, Carlos Rodon and Micker Adolfo will be shut down due to respective season ending arm surgeries. Rodon has the most significant diagnosis, as he will require Tommy John surgery.
Rick Hahn mentioned that he expects Rodon to be back by the second half of next season. The 26-year-old left-hander will be joining the likes of Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning as starters who make their return from the very same procedure.
Carlos Rodón will undergo Tommy John surgery later this week. The timing of his return will be subject to his scheduled surgery date, but Rick Hahn expects him to be ready by the second half of the 2020 season.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 13, 2019
Nate Jones had surgery on Monday to repair a flexor mass tear in his right forearm. Jones, a 5th round draft pick of the White Sox in 2007, entered 2019 with 41.2 total innings pitched in 2017-18.
Since 2014, Jones appeared in more than 30 innings just once and owns a career 3.12 ERA in 291.1 innings. The White Sox may exercise their $5.15 million club option in 2020. If the club option is denied, the Sox can buy out the hard throwing right-hander for $1.25 million.
Micker Adolfo, meanwhile, will require surgery on the same throwing elbow that kept the power-hitting Dominican prospect out of commission in 2018. It is reported the procedure is necessary in order for Adolfo’s past Tommy John surgery to be worthwhile.
“Micker Adolfo will be visiting with Dr. Andrews, at which time he will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his elbow,” Hahn said. “We are expecting it to be a debridement or removal of scar tissue, as well as potentially some work done on the nerve, a nerve transposition in the forearm."
"That will knock Micker out for the remainder of the 2019 season. However, he will be able to resume baseball activities shortly after the season ends, and we project him to be able to join us in 2020 spring training as an outfielder without restrictions whatsoever.”
As I shake my head and scoff at the phenomenon of my favorite sports team’s natural ability to make me feel the opposite of euphoric time and time again, I’m now forced to re-evaluate my standing on the trajectory of several top prospects. This feels all too familiar.
Zack Burdi, Alec Hansen, Jake Burger, Dane Dunning and even Michael Kopech have suffered devastating injuries in the past, which acts as a variable as it pertains to their professional developments. The most common theme among the aforementioned is time lost.
Valuable years are being ripped away from prospects who projected to be Major League contributors much sooner, rather than later. Consequently, the metaphoric competitive window is forced to stay shut for longer than anticipated.
The news is particularly difficult to stomach as it relates to Adolfo. Once described as owning the strongest arm in the White Sox farm system, the right fielder/DH will spend his second consecutive season rehabbing.
Adolfo spent 23 games in Double-A Birmingham this season strictly as a designated hitter. In 95 plate appearances, he slashed .205/.337/.295 with seven doubles, 36 strikeouts, 14 walks and nine RBI. He did not homer in 2019.
Signed out of San Pedro de Macoris of the Dominican Republic as a 17-year-old in 2014, Adolfo is currently listed at 6-4, 255. At the time, the White Sox presented Adolfo with a $1.6 million signing bonus, which was the largest ever by the organization for an international signing. He was noted as the second rated International Prospect of his signing class.
The hope following the latest setback for a piece the Sox have greatly committed their resources to is that he returns to baseball activity fully healthy in the winter and works as an outfielder, not just a hitter. With that being said, the White Sox goal is to provide Adolfo with as many plate appearance as possible to catch up on what will ultimately be two full seasons of lost opportunity.
Among the three latest players to suffer season ending injuries, Adolfo and Rodon are met with higher significance in their own respective ways. The Adolfo news is especially frustrating because he is theoretically entering the years in which the Sox should be seriously evaluating his potential standing with the Major League club.
Instead, the plan for the seventh ranked prospect in the system will have to be pushed back a year. Arthroscopic surgery is considered minor, which is of course positive news. However, what makes this second elbow surgery so significant is its impact on the number of games missed for a young talent surrounded with expectations. The White Sox will receive another option year for Adolfo though which is a small victory for the club in this case.
Hahn says Adolfo will have a fourth option year due to the missed time.
Expected to return to baseball activities in 4-6 months
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) May 13, 2019
I’m approaching the Rodon injury a little bit differently. At this point in his career, we pretty much know what he is.
A three-pitch pitcher who's dealt with plenty of health issues himself and has accumulated a pretty significant sample size. That sample size, as well as what he offers in his FB/CH/SL mix, qualifies as a mid-rotation starter for this club moving forward.
Although he did headline the current White Sox rotation, Rodon has not done enough to be considered an ace of any staff. Though the loss is deflating, it's not catastrophic.
The biggest setback as a result of the left-hander’s Tommy John surgery is the innings gap the Sox will need to fill from now until the second half of 2020. For a group that has sent out the likes of Ervin Santana, Dylan Covey and Manny Banuelos, filling out the rotation is currently an utmost priority, in my humble opinion.
I think we’ve seen just about all there is to see with Nate Jones. He will likely be bought out at the end of the season.
Ultimately, as much as I’d like to root for the 2019 White Sox, legitimate optimism will arise in 2020. As long as players remain healthy, Hahn will finally be able to incorporate prospects to the Major League club fans have longed for since the start of the rebuild.
Maybe then I can remember what it feels like to be a fan of a team that’s not cursed.
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