Just days after pitchers and catchers reported to Yankees spring training, the team experienced its first injury. It’s not quite as dire as Luis Severino needing Tommy John surgery not long after coming to camp last year, but it’s not exactly something that Aaron Boone can immediately write off, either.
Boone told reporters on Monday that right-hander Clarke Schmidt will have to be shut down for three to four weeks after suffering a common extensor strain in his elbow. He did clarify that it’s not a “Tommy John situation” and that Schmidt’s UCL is fine. The Yankees are just playing it safe with one of the top pitching prospects in their organization.
Schmidt is a Tommy John survivor, having undergone the procedure at the end of his collegiate career at the University of South Carolina in 2017. He just turned 25 on February 20th and was consistently ranked by most publications as one of the top 100 prospects in baseball. He was typically one of three Baby Bombers included, alongside Deivi García and Jasson Dominguez. While Schmidt usually ranked behind them, The Athletic’s Keith Law put him atop the Yankees’ system and No. 48 overall.
After debuting last year, Schmidt was expected to contend with the likes of García, Domingo Germán, and Michael King for one of the last open spots in the Yankees’ starting rotation for 2021, but this will take him out of the mix for that. Right now, the priority will just be getting Schmidt healthy again, and thus he’ll probably start the season off in Triple-A Scranton if his elbow has recovered by April.