Baltimore Orioles: Zach Pop To Undergo Tommy John Surgery
By Nick Stevens
Acquired as part of the Manny Machado trade to Los Angeles last season, Baltimore Orioles prospect Zach Pop will be shut down due to surgery.
Today started out as a positive day down on the farm for the Baltimore Orioles. Norfolk Tides outfielder DJ Stewart was named to MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week after hitting .313 with three home runs in five games and outfielder Austin Hays was officially added to the roster of the Frederick Keys to finally begin his 2019 season.
Unfortunately, MASN’s Roch Kubatko broke some unfortunate news on Monday evening, stating that RHP Zach Pop, the 19th-ranked prospect in the Baltimore Orioles farm system, will have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.
Pop, 22, was part of the package brought to Baltimore in return for Manny Machado at last year’s trade deadline. A relief prospect, Pop quickly became an intriguing name once fans, myself included, scoured the internet for scouting reports on the newest Orioles and saw what Pop can do with his fastball.
There was also this interview with David Laurila of Fangraphs in which Pop described his electric pitch.
"Yesterday, I hit 99 with my two-seamer. It used to be the case that I’d throw harder with my four-seam, but now it’s kind of equaled out. The only thing that’s really different is the movement. I get some pretty crazy numbers on my sinker. I think I have something like 20 inches of horizontal, and five inches of vertical, movement."
The Orioles sent Pop back to Double-A Bowie to start the 2019 season, where he was highly effective before landing on the injured list. In eight appearances (10.2 innings), Pop was 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, allowing one earned run on seven hits. His 11/4 K/BB ratio and .184 average against were equally as impressive in his brief time with the Baysox. He was placed on the 7-Day MiLB Injured List back on May 1st.
There were concerns over Pop’s health when he made his spring training debut with the Orioles earlier this season. A lack of velocity on his normally intense fastball was played down, but it raised eyebrows. Whether this is connected to today’s news, I don’t know and we likely won’t know. What we do know is that the Orioles will be without an exciting prospect for an extended period of time.
Tommy John surgery isn’t a deathblow and the odds of Pop returning to action in 2020 are very likely, as long as there are no hiccups during his rehab, but it is disappointing to see a young, promising prospect go down to a serious injury, especially when one of the brightest Baltimore Orioles storylines of 2019 has been the performance of the pitching staffs down in the minor leagues.
Since being selected in the seventh round of the 2017 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pop has a career ERA of 1.34 and WHIP of 0.91 in 80.1 innings. He’s totaled 80 career strikeouts and has allowed just one home run.
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