FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Top outfield prospect Alex Kirilloff, the Twins' first-round pick in the 2016 Draft, suffered a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament and will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on March 8. Dr. David Altchek will perform the surgery in New York.
Kirilloff, who is ranked as Minnesota's No. 3 prospect and No. 98 overall by MLBPipeline.com, suffered the injury on a throw during a game with Rookie-level Elizabethton on Aug. 28, general manager Thad Levine said. Kirilloff, 19, spent the offseason rehabbing after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection, but the symptoms returned while trying to throw this spring.
"It is difficult to go through any injury, especially when it means missing a season in its entirety," Kirilloff said in a statement. "This scenario especially, being new to the organization, is a tough pill to swallow. While I am deeply disappointed, I am looking forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible. I have confidence in the Twins, in myself and most importantly, in the Lord to return to baseball activities in a few short months."
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It's a blow to the organization, as Kirilloff will lose a year of development. He'll rehab in Fort Myers, with the process expected to take nine months. But Kirilloff could resume some baseball activities in five months, which could put him in line to get some work in the instructional league.
"It's challenging," Levine said. "This is the vagaries of developing players. Health is an unknown. As smart as you can get with algorithms to predict performance, injuries are one thing that we have such a little handle on. The good thing is he's 19 years old and has his entire career ahead of him."
Kirilloff, a 6-foot-2, 195-pounder who is expected to develop power from the left side, is the second top position-player prospect the Twins have lost to Tommy John surgery in recent years, as Miguel Sano missed the 2014 season with the same injury.
Kirilloff hit .306/.341/.454 with seven homers, nine doubles and 33 RBIs in 55 games with Elizabethton last year. He was expected to open the season with Class A Cedar Rapids. Kirilloff was selected No. 15 overall out of Plum High School in Pittsburgh. He pitched and played outfield in high school, and Levine said he was unaware of any elbow issues prior to being drafted, but that torn ulnar collateral ligaments usually build up over time.
"The shame is the timing, because he'll miss the entirety of the season," Levine said. "I'm confident in our medical staff and everybody rehabbing him that he'll come back stronger. But you feel for the player. He's put a lot of work in. And you're obviously disappointed for the organization. But the good news is the best of his career is way ahead of him."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.