Keith Law of ESPN.com is reporting on Twitter that Duke University right-hander Michael Matuella has a torn ulnar collateral ligament and will undergo Tommy John Surgery.
Duke RHP Mike Matuella, a potential first overall pick in June, tore his UCL and will have Tommy John surgery
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) April 1, 2015
Matuella had been viewed in baseball circles as a potential top overall pick in this June’s First-Year Player Draft. Matuella was ranked the top collegiate prospect on MLB.com’s top-50 draft list, behind only high school shortstop Brendan Rogers. Matuella is the second significant amateur pitcher to require Tommy John surgery in the past week, as last year’s first pick Brady Aiken announced on March 26th that he had undergone the ligament replacement surgery. Aiken went unsigned by the Houston Astros, and had been preparing for this year’s draft at the IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The surgery will not necessarily rule Matuella out of the first round. Last year’s first round saw two players drafted who were in the process of rehabbing from Tommy John — Jeff Hoffman, who went ninth overall to the Blue Jays, and Erick Fedde, who went 18th overall to the Nationals. Other pitchers who have received significant guaranteed money while still rehabbing from surgery include Luke Hochevar and Kris Medlen, who have both reached the major leagues.
This year’s class is viewed as a relatively weak crop of prospects, so chances remain good that Matuella will find his name called in the first round despite the surgery. Matuella went undrafted out of high school before blossoming at Duke. His fastball has been clocked as high as 97. The 6’7″ right-hander also has excellent command of his curveball, slider, and changeup. In six starts this season, Matuella went 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA in 25.0 innings pitched.