PHILADELPHIA — To no one’s surprise, the Dodgers announced Tuesday that 2015 first-round draft pick Walker Buehler will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The pitcher will have the procedure Wednesday, performed by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
The Tennessean, quoting Buehler’s coach at Vanderbilt University, reported July 18 that the surgery was a matter of time.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said Tuesday that “it was no certain thing when we drafted him that he would need” the surgery. Medical exams after the draft and before Buehler signed with the Dodgers revealed damage to Buehler’s elbow ligament.
Buehler signed for $1.7 million, about $300,000 under the assigned slot value for the 24th overall pick.
“As far as signing him, we still think he is one of the top pitching talents in the draft,” Zaidi said. “We have the luxury of being able to play the long game. Even if it puts him a year behind, we think when he comes back he’s going to justify where we selected him. Obviously we signed him for a reduced number that allowed us to do some other things in the draft.”
Zaidi said it’s possible that Buehler could possibly return to pitch late next season at the minor-league level, but “more realistically he’ll pitch in instructs next fall and really be more of a factor in 2017.”