The 2017 Twins season is officially underway, as news broke this morning that Alex Kirilloff—the team’s first round draft pick in 2016, who was voted the 4th best prospect in the organization in our community prospect poll—will undergo Tommy John’s surgery next week.
If you’re thinking, “I don’t remember the Twins drafting a pitcher in the first round last year...?” don’t fret—he’s not a pitcher. Kirilloff is actually a outfielder, and he’s only 19-years-old. While it’s not unheard of for a position player to get the surgery (remember 20-year-old Miguel Sano?), it’s not as common.
Last year, Kirilloff played 55 games in Rookie Ball for the Elizabethton Twins, and hit .306/.341/.454 with seven home runs. Apparently, he was shutdown late in the season due to elbow discomfort. The team told him to rest and rehab over the off-season in hopes it would fix the problem without surgery, but it didn’t. Hence, Kirilloff’s getting the surgery. It will be performed March 8th by Dr. David Altchek, who also operated on Sano.
Before you get all up in arms about the Twins medical staff, take a few deep breaths. Good? Okay. Let’s all keep in mind that no sane doctor jumps to Tommy John’s surgery as the first solution to elbow discomfort. It was perfectly reasonable to wait the off-season to see if rest helped Kirilloff’s elbow heal. And yes—the team DID perform an MRI last summer, and they determined this was the best plan. Medicine and injuries are not exact sciences, nor is surgery always an immediate or even optimal solution.
Anyway, Kirilloff will miss the entire 2017 season, which he probably would have spent in Low-A Cedar Rapids.