The Texas Rangers hard luck with pitching prospects continued on Friday with the team announcing that RHP Ricky Vanasco was set for Tommy John.
The list of Texas Rangers’ pitching prospects to have Tommy John surgery early in their careers is an expansive one and on Friday it got one name longer. The club announced that RHP Ricky Vanasco would be undergoing Tommy John on Monday after an injury, presumably sustained during his time at the Rangers’ Alternate Training Site.
Most importantly, you always feel for a young player when they go down with significant injury and for pitchers rarely are there ones more significant than those that lead to Tommy John surgery. Vanasco is determined to return stronger though and took to Twitter to confirm those sentiments.
Vanasco was a pitching prospect who was on a sharp rise in both the performances he was producing on the field as well as his notoriety among prospect evaluators. Vanasco’s stock started to climb after a breakout 2019 campaign where he split the season between Short-Season Spokane and Class-A Hickory.
In total, Vanasco made 11 starts in 2019, nine with Spokane and two with Hickory. He had a combined ERA of 1.81 and racked up an impressive 75 strikeouts in 49.2 innings pitched. With a stellar 13.6 strikeouts per nine rate and a 1.067 WHIP, Vanasco showed an impressive ability to miss bats and limit baserunners.
A 15th round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Vanasco was ranked 18th in the Rangers’ organization per MLB Pipeline and 24th among Texas prospects by FanGraphs. Jamey Newberg who covers the Rangers for The Athletic is one of the most earnest supporters of Vanasco’s importance as a prospect and put out a great piece about his journey to and through pro baseball.
Vanasco’s surgery will have some impact on his big league timeline. He was unlikely to make it to Arlington next season having not even made it to the High-A level yet, but he was a candidate for perhaps the 2022 Texas Rangers’ squad. The 2021 season was set to be a big one for the righty with a lively fastball as he would have had a chance to cement his spot as a top arm in the system. Now that 2021 season will be wiped out which could push his timeline back by at least another year.
Looking to the bright side, Vanasco seems to have his mind in the right place when it comes to this set back. He doesn’t turn 22 until next month meaning he has plenty of baseball in his career ahead of him. The key is getting healthy and getting right so he gets his chance to return to the mound and be the impact starter the Texas Rangers believe he could be.