It’s official. Prospect Troy Patton will undergo season ending shoulder surgery to repair a small labrum tear. This shouldn’t be much of a shock. The Orioles have been dragging their feet on this since Spring Training started.
The question is - does this change your opinion of the Miguel Tejada trade? I don’t think it should. I know, I know; Patton was the top prospect to come back in that trade and an injury to him should hurt the value of the trade more than an injury to anyone else we received. However, it’s too early to tell how this will affect things in the long run, and that was what the trade was made for - the long run. We also knew that he had some kind of injury when we traded for him. We just didn’t know if it would require surgery or only rehab. The question surrounding Patton’s shoulder enabled us to wrestle extra players from the Astros. It’s easy to imagine some of those other players surpassing expectations and making up for Patton’s fall, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The tear in Patton’s shoulder is a small one and the doctors are confident that he can make a healthy comeback for the 2009 season. Patton will only be 23 next season, so he’ll still be a young left-handed pitcher on the brink of playing in the major leagues. That sounds good to me.
There is also a chance that he’ll be a better pitcher when he comes back. In 2006 he struck out 139 batters in 146 innings pitched. In 2007 he struck out 101 batters in 164 innings pitched. From the beginning of 2006 thru 2007 he rose from Class A Advanced all the way to the Major Leagues. Because his declining strikeout rate accompanied his fast rise through the Minor Leagues, many saw it as a sign that he wouldn’t be as effective against more advanced bats, but maybe it was that pesky shoulder.
When asked about his impending surgery, one thing that Patton mentioned was looking forward to coming back completely healthy with "a little bit more velocity than [he's] been pitching with". That makes me think that his shoulder was contributing to his declining numbers.
I’ll be looking forward to 2009 and a healthy Troy Patton.