Royals' 2020 top Draft pick Lacy has Tommy John surgery

March 21st, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Royals Minor Leaguer , the No. 4 overall MLB Draft pick in 2020, announced Tuesday night that he underwent full ulnar collateral ligament surgery and will miss the 2024 season.

It’s been a tough journey for Lacy in his professional career, which started when he was drafted out of Texas A&M and given a $6.667 million signing bonus. He’s pitched just 80 innings since, marred by injuries.

“I have been dealt a substantial amount of adversity in my career so far and I’m excited to conquer the challenges ahead and come back better and stronger,” Lacy wrote on Instagram. “I am blessed to be surrounded by such a great support group from my parents, the Kansas City Royals, to friends and teammates all over. My passion and love for this game has never been stronger. Best of luck to all my teammates in 2024.”

In his first full season of pro ball in 2021, Lacy made 14 starts for High-A Quad Cities and posted a 5.19 ERA. In ’22, back problems limited him to just 28 innings in the Arizona Complex League and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He was held back in Arizona at the start of the ’23 season because his back was beginning to flare up again, and he ended up staying there the entire year without throwing a pitch for a Royals affiliate.

Lacy came into Minor League Spring Training healthy and was progressing in a normal throwing program -- mainly in shorter stints as a reliever to get him productive time on the field -- until his elbow began to hurt about a week and a half ago, according to Royals general manager J.J. Picollo.

“It stinks,” Picollo said. “He had been throwing the ball well in limited time out here so far. And you feel good about it. I know he put a lot of time in this offseason to get ready for it. And he gets injured. It’s an unfortunate part of this game you deal with all the time.”

Lacy was once rated as high as the Royals’ No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, but injuries and command struggles when he was pitching have kept him off the rankings the last few years. When he was healthy, Lacy fired 100 mph fastballs and had elite breaking stuff, making his ceiling incredibly high -- which is why he was seen as one of the top college pitchers in the 2020 Draft.

The recovery time for a full UCL reconstruction is typically 12-18 months for pitchers. Lacy could be nearing the end of his rehab by the beginning of the 2025 season.

“He’s a competitor,” Picollo said. “This isn’t the end of the road for him. He’s going to want to get back.”