Top pick Buehler set for Tommy John surgery
PHILADELPHIA -- First-round pick Walker Buehler will undergo Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on Wednesday and be out 12 to 18 months, the Dodgers announced on Tuesday.
Buehler, a slender right-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt, was the 24th overall pick. Confirmation of his injury is the other shoe to drop on a disappointing 2015 Draft after the Dodgers were unable to sign Kyle Funkhouser, the 35th overall pick and compensation for Boston's signing of Hanley Ramirez.
General manager Farhan Zaidi said the Dodgers knew there was some risk with Buehler, who experienced arm discomfort during the season, but he didn't know he needed surgery until after the Draft and a full set of medical scans were performed.
"In consultation with Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache, getting the surgery was probably the best thing for him long term," Zaidi said. "He's pitched through the symptoms in the past, but we didn't think that was prudent going forward."
The slot bonus for Buehler was $2,094,400, but the Dodgers signed him for $1.78 million, knowing he would need the surgery.
"We still think he's one of the top pitching talents in the Draft, and we have the luxury of being able to play the long game," said Zaidi. "Even if it puts him a year behind, we feel he can come back and justify where we selected him. We obviously signed him for a reduced number that enabled us to do different things in the Draft. We thought because of the talent and the things it allowed us to do and we still like the long-term prospects, that it made sense."
Buehler was 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 14 starts this past season for Vanderbilt, and 20-7 with a 2.88 ERA in three years there. He missed the first two weeks of this season with elbow soreness. He's been compared to Zack Greinke in build and pitch repertoire.