Dylan Bundy, the top pitching prospect in baseball, emerged from Dr. James Andrews' office on Monday with nothing more than a Band-Aid and instructions to take it easy for six weeks.
The fourth-overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bundy made his major league debut last September and, coming into spring training, was considered a legitimate candidate to join the rotation at some point this season. However, in camp, he displayed diminished velocity and then was shut down with tightness in his pitching elbow. Though Bundy has thrown a bit since, he hasn't pitched in a game since March. His visit to Andrews on Monday came at Bundy's own request when he felt further discomfort after throwing from 90 feet last Monday.
So far, however, the news has been good. An MRI showed no structural damage in his elbow, and Andrews' prescribed only a platelet-rich plasma injection, administered on Monday, and rest.
That doesn't mean that Bundy won't eventually have to go under the knife. The Dodgers' Chad Billingsley attempted to, erm, dodge Tommy John surgery over the winter via platelet-rich plasma injections, rest and rehabilitation, only to ultimately have the surgery last week. However, Billingsley was diagnosed with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament last August. No such tear has been detected in Bundy.
So far, the Cardinals' Jaime Garcia, who was diagnosed with a partial tear of the labrum and rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder and also took the PRP route over the winter, has had more success and avoided any setbacks while going 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in his first five starts this season.
Closer to home for the Orioles, Zach Britton, who was the team's last major pitching prospect, took PRP injections for his sore left shoulder last spring, but while he has not missed any additional time due to shoulder problems since returning to action late last May, he hasn't returned to his pre-injury form either. Coincidentally, Britton will make his first major league appearance of the season Monday night, starting against the Mariners in Seattle in place of the demoted Jake Arrieta, who serves as a reminder of the struggles the Orioles have had in recent seasons in converting their pitching prospects into reliable and healthy major league starters. Here's hoping the 20-year-old Bundy's future is brighter than those of Britton, Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Chris Tillman -- all of whom are 25 or older -- have proven to be.