I was at Pirate City today to watch the extended Spring Training game, and in the process I got a few injury updates. While typing them up, I noticed that most of these guys were 2014 draft picks. It was at that point I looked at the 2014 draft and noticed that seven of the first 11 picks have been injured in the ten months since the draft. Aside from the players below, other injuries include Cole Tucker (thumb surgery), Jordan Luplow (minor shoulder soreness), and Austin Coley (shoulder strain). I’d chalk that up to coincidence and poor luck for now, but it was worth a mention. Here are the latest injury updates from the extended Spring Training minor leaguers.
**Connor Joe, who missed all of last year with a back issue after being selected with a first round competitive balance pick, is slowly building up for the season. Today he was taking at-bats in a minor league game, although he was still limited. He was able to swing and take a full at-bat, but wasn’t running out of the box. Joe has been at this stage for the last two weeks. The Pirates are being cautious and slowly building him up after he was out of the game for about eight months with his injury.
**2014 6th round pick Tyler Eppler was delayed to start the season after dealing with some elbow soreness in Spring Training. He was on pace to join the Bradenton Marauders rotation by the end of April, but a recent setback has delayed those plans. Eppler had more discomfort and was flown to Pittsburgh to see the team doctor. It was revealed that he had scar tissue in his elbow from when he had bone spurs removed during his sophomore year in college. He’s currently on anti-inflammatory medicine, and is back to throwing, getting up to 90 feet in his program. Eppler said that he’s looking forward to getting back on the mound and starting the season.
**Trey Supak was down for about a week with some shoulder soreness. The 2014 second round pick is already throwing again, and is up to 120 feet in his throwing program. He’s not going to be making his season debut until the middle of June, which is two months away, so the Pirates had every reason to be cautious here. His fellow 2014 draft pick Gage Hinsz threw three innings in a minor league game today, sitting 90-92 MPH with some command issues, and showing a nice curveball with 11-to-5 movement that he was able to drop low in the zone on a few pitches.
**Stephen Tarpley was on pace to be a member of the West Virginia starting rotation until shoulder soreness shut him down at the end of Spring Training. Tarpley is back to throwing off the mound, and has been doing bullpen work. He has another bullpen coming up this week, and is hoping to get back into games soon to build up for the season, although he said that is up to the trainers. “They’ve got a program for me, and I’m just doing what I can do to be prepared and be ready…Mentally I’m ready. Physically I feel ready. Just whenever they’re going to let me do my thing.”
**Kevin Krause had an impressive debut in the Pirates’ system last year after being selected in the ninth round. The catcher/right fielder looked like an interesting prospect to watch this year due to his power potential. However, he was shut down at the end of Spring Training after it was revealed that he had a partial tear in his UCL. Krause had discomfort in his elbow that got worse each day. After feeling the pain on a throw, he got an MRI, which showed the tear.
Since his ligament was still intact, Krause opted for rest and a Platelet Rich Plasma injection in his elbow to speed up the recovery. He went up to Pittsburgh for the procedure on April 6th, and will wait until May 4th to have another MRI and check his progress. The plan makes sense. If he had Tommy John surgery from the start, he would be out for the year. If he waits to see if it improves, he could play the final three months of the 2015 season. If he ends up needing the Tommy John later, he’ll still be out for the year and will be able to return at the start of next season.
Krause said he’s hoping to be in a throwing progression in 2-3 weeks. The typical recovery period if the PRP shot works is six weeks from the injection. The recovery from surgery for a position player would be 7-8 months. He’s hoping to come back to full strength, able to play both of his previous positions with no pain and no limitations on his throwing.
“That’s where we’re at right now,” Krause said. “Just rehabbing, getting strength back in the area, and just letting the PRP shot do what it does, and hopefully it heals and I’ll be back on the field.”