Well, it had to happen sooner or later. In a season where pitchers had been dropping like flies to the scourge of Tommy John surgery, the Blue Jays had gotten until May 19 without losing a man. And that era of a relatively injury-free Blue Jays system is over as Clinton Hollon has tweeted that he’s going to be going for TJ (for some reason this tweet wasn’t embedding in the post properly so click the link to see it).
For those of you following Hollon, he was the Blue Jays’ second round pick last season and the highest draft pick the Blue Jays had last year who signed. Hollon was a high school draftee out of Kentucky who signed for well under slot because his medical reports showed (what he calls) a 59% tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow. Why would the Blue Jays select someone like him, who is damaged goods, in the draft? First of all, the injury resulted in the Blue Jays signing Hollon for $467,280 which saved them $700,920 against the bonus pool cap. This savings allowed the Jays to sign Jake Brentz with the 11th round pick and further savings allowed the Jays to sign Rowdy Tellez after selecting him in the 30th round. Hollon pitched through the injury last year, posting outstanding numbers in the GCL before being challenged more in Bluefield in just 5 1/3 innings. Knowing he had this tear in his UCL, Hollon told me this past spring that he hadn’t felt pain despite the injury.
Why are they doing surgery now? Hollon tweeted that he was feeling stiff (rather than pain) but there was a big loss of velocity that resulted in the decision to get the inevitable over with now.
@KyleMatte @AndrewStoeten @gideonturk not really a little stiff. Just went from touching 96-7 to 90-1. But had the tear the whole time
— Clinton Hollon (@ClintonHollon) May 20, 2014
So there it is. As we’ve seen with someone like Drew Hutchison, Tommy John surgery is hardly a death sentence and its omnipresence in baseball these days could have Hollon coming back to pitch in short-season ball in 2015 at the age of 20. What the toughest thing to see is that he loses a year of development. His slider looked like he didn’t really have good command in the one bullpen I saw him throw in spring training. I didn’t see anything other than the fastball and the slider so I don’t know what kind of changeup he throws right now.
In a case like Hollon’s, the lost year of development could be more detrimental than to someone like Roberto Osuna who, at the same age (actually, Osuna’s about six weeks younger than Hollon), had already pitched in Class-A Lansing and has three very good pitches and a mature approach to pitching.
We wish Clinton the best in his recovery and we hope to see him lighting up the radar gun next year!
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