Phillies top prospect, pitcher Andrew Painter, was diagnosed with a torn UCL and is trying to avoid Tommy John surgery.
Philadelphia Phillies top prospect Andrew Painter was officially diagnosed with a “right proximal ulnar collateral ligament sprain,” dealing a tough blow to the pitcher’s chances of making the team’s Opening Day rotation.
Last week, Painter underwent tests for his elbow issue and reportedly sought a second opinion that confirmed the UCL sprain; his path to recovery now becomes much more treacherous with a Tommy John surgery looming overhead.
Per the team’s decision, Painter will not need surgery….yet. Painter will rest for four weeks and then start a “light throwing program” that will test Painter’s ability to play through the injury.
Painter reported right elbow tenderness following his spring training start last Wednesday, and at the time, the lack of clarity and information on his injury seemed to suggest the worst.
Now with a structured recovery plan in place, Painter will have to fight his way back into the Phillies’ starting rotation in 2023.
Phillies pitcher Andrew Painter declines Tommy John surgery
The 2021 No. 13 overall pick has quickly established himself as one of the top prospects in baseball, rising through the ranks with a combined 1.56 ERA and a 38.7 percent strikeout rate in 22 starts across three levels of the Minors.
Painter, who will turn 20 years old this year, was named the Phillies’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2022 and was highly touted to earn the No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation this season.
Painter’s unfortunate injury setback nonetheless doesn’t detract from his impressive performance in camp, one highlight of which was a 99 mph fastball to Minnesota Twins’ Carlos Correa during his debut.
The Phillies will reassess Painter’s health status in about a month to see whether he does need Tommy John surgery after all. Given that most UCL injuries tend to require that surgery, Painter will need to pray for a miracle.
With Painter ruled out for Opening Day and possibly longer, Bailey Falter, Cristopher Sánchez, or Michael Plassmeyer could swoop in for that No. 5 starting spot.
Twins’ Correa said Painter was going to become “a star” after facing him this spring — and he very well could be, as long as his health holds up.