On the third anniversary of the day Miguel Sano was told he needed Tommy John surgery, the Twins learned Wednesday they have lost another top hitting prospect for a full season to elbow surgery.
Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota's 2016 first-round pick who already had scouts enthused about his swift adaptation to professional baseball, will miss the 2017 season after soreness recurred in his elbow upon reporting to minor league training camp. The outfield prospect's ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow is torn, doctors have determined after a magnetic resonance imaging test this week, and will require surgery to replace it.
The Tommy John procedure will be performed next Wednesday in New York by Dr. David Altchek, who also replaced ligaments inside the elbows of Kyle Gibson, Joe Nathan, Scott Baker — and Sano, back in 2014.
"I know he was disappointed," Twins General Manager Thad Levine said. "It hurts. He's a high-value player in our system, he's 19 years old and he still has his whole career ahead of him. The timing is a shame because he will miss the entirety of the season, but we have a degree of confidence that he's going to come back stronger than he was."
Said Kirilloff: "While I am deeply disappointed, I am looking forward to the challenge of getting back on the field as soon as possible."
Kirilloff, who batted .306 in 55 games at rookie-level Elizabethton after being chosen with the 15th overall pick last June, first reported pain in his elbow during an Aug. 28 game against Greenville. He was examined by Twins orthopedist Dr. John Steubs, and the decision was made to try PRP therapy — in which platelet-rich plasma is injected into the elbow — and rehabilitation in an effort to avoid surgery.
But the soreness returned this week, and after the MRI revealed a partial tear, the Twins and Kirilloff decided to go ahead with surgery.
The teenager from suburban Pittsburgh will spend the summer in Fort Myers, rehabbing the elbow. The Twins estimate that Kirilloff, whom Baseball America already rates as the Twins' No. 3 prospect, will be able to resume baseball activities in five months, though full recovery will take at least nine.
Pirates first baseman John Jaso lined a home run into the Hammond Field seats Wednesday, but that wasn't the Jaso play that bothered Twins manager Paul Molitor. That came in the first inning, when Jaso caught the Twins not paying attention.
Jaso singled to right field, moving David Freese to third base ahead of Zach Granite's throw, which shortstop Ehire Adrianza cut off. When the play ended, Adrianza didn't call time and Jaso noticed second base unguarded, so he suddenly sprinted to the bag.
"It's a pretty obvious play that you don't expect to see at this level. Just a momentary lapse of focus," Molitor said. "It was a little disappointing, I must say. It certainly jumps out at you for a guy who's got time in the bigs."
Three long bus rides await the Twins over the next four days, beginning with Thursday's trip to Sarasota to meet the Orioles in a noon CT game. The entire starting outfield will make the trip, as will Phil Hughes, who makes his second start.