The recent spat of injury news continued this morning, when the Braves announced that RHP Arodys Vizcaino was undergoing Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2012 season. Vizciano was rated the #2 prospect in the Braves system by Marc Hulet, and despite being just 21-years-old, he was in the mix for a Major League job at some point in 2012. While the Braves certainly have the pitching depth to deal with not having him on the mound this year, this is still a blow to the organization.
And, while no decision will likely be made on this until after Vizcaino rehabs, there’s a decent chance that this answers the lingering “starter or reliever” question that has followed Vizciano around. His two-pitch repertoire and big time fastball suggested a career in the bullpen may be in his future, but the Braves continued to let him start in Double-A last season before having him pitch in relief in Triple-A and the Majors. Even putting aside any durability questions this injury raises – in conjunction with the elbow soreness he experienced in 2010, his long term health has to be a concern – the lost year of development probably tips the scales towards a career in relief. He’s a guy who needed as much time on the mound as possible to continue developing his repertoire if he was going to stick as a starter, but losing the entire 2012 season is going to make it difficult for the Braves to keep him in that role.
More likely, Vizciano will return to the mound next year and be told to just prepare for a career of 15 pitch outings. Hopefully, for his sake, that task proves less strenuous on his arm.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.