SAN DIEGO -- Top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, the Phillies' No. 1 selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, is expected to have Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on July 25, and will miss at least one year. The news comes one day after the Phillies officially introduced their latest pitching prospect -- left-hander Joe Savery -- and represents a blow to Drabek's development as one of the organization's top prospects. Drabek will seek second and third opinions from doctors Michael Ciccotti and James Andrews this week before having the surgery, which will be performed by New York Mets team physician David Altchek.
"We've been fortunate with not having that many surgeries," said Steve Noworyta, the team's director of scouting. "With as much torque and power that Drabek throws, you're going to run into some situations like this. It's just unfortunate that it happened to him." At 19, the Phillies are confident Drabek will return stronger, as so many other pitchers have after this surgery. Fellow prospect Scott Mathieson had the surgery in September and is nearing a return. While this is a setback, Noworyta believes the year won't cost too much development time. "He's young enough that he'll gain that time back because he moved quickly in his first year," Noworyta said. "When he went to big-league camp, I thought he really matured, and he pitched well [at Lakewood] up to this point. He really started to come on. He learned so much in a short amount of time." The right-hander had gone 5-1 with a 4.33 ERA in 11 starts for Class A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League. His final appearance of the season came against Delmarva, when he allowed three runs -- one earned -- on two hits. He didn't record an out and went on the disabled list shortly after with elbow inflammation. He hadn't pitched since June 15, and began a throwing program about two weeks ago. He still felt sore after playing long toss the other day, Noworyta said. After throwing off a mound, Drabek told the team he felt something in his elbow, and he had a second MRI taken. That revealed a tear. AA's AB: Many Phillies took delight in Antonio Alfonseca's first at-bat since May 15, 2004 (a strikeout), and were proud that he put the ball in play this time, a groundout to second. "He took a couple of hacks," Adam Eaton said. "He didn't strike out like I do most of the time. He always wants to take extra batting practice at home. It's always fun to watch Tony do something a little abnormal." "He wasn't going to get cheated," added Ryan Howard. "To see him put it in play, I thought it was great." Alfonseca has two hits in 14 career at-bats, and both came in 2002, while with the Cubs. The victims? Joe Beimel and Matt Herges. "I remember them," Alfonseca said. "It was fun to try again." More fun for Alfonseca is nailing down Phillies wins, as he did Friday for his seventh save in 10 opportunities. Injuries to Tom Gordon and Brett Myers have turned Alfonseca into a closer for the first time since 2002, and he's posted a 3.68 ERA. With Gordon being eased into closing situations, Alfonseca will likely shoulder the load a little longer. A series of losses, blowout wins and the All-Star break have limited him to two appearances in 14 days. He's also been slowed by a sore left ankle but said he's fine. "I'm ready whenever they need me," he said. Philling in: RHP Brett Myers hit 91-93 mph in his inning for Class A Clearwater on Friday. He'll pitch again on Monday, and manager Charlie Manuel said Myers could be activated as early as July 26, when the Phillies play the Nationals. ... Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, the Phillies' Spring Training home from 1955-2003, was demolished Saturday. Hall-of-Famers Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt were among those who played at Jack Russell. Coming up: Right-hander J.D. Durbin earned himself another start with his performance against the Dodgers on Tuesday. The 25-year-old struggled to that point, suffering a difficult first start and subsequent relief appearances. Durbin said the week before his previous outing that he preferred starting, and showed why against the Dodgers. He pitched six innings and allowed one earned run. He walked only two, showing no signs of the control problems he faced as a reliever. His ERA, at one point at 94.50 after an early season start with Arizona, has dipped below 10. First pitch Sunday against the Padres is at 4:05 p.m. PT.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.