Multiple sources are reporting this afternoon that Baltimore Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy, rated as the top pitching prospect in baseball by most evaluators entering 2013, is meeting with Dr. James Andrews and will likely need Tommy John surgery on his ailing right elbow.
Bundy was bothered by "mild elbow tightness" at the end of spring training. An attempt to fix the problem with an injection of blood platelets didn't help.
ESPN's Keith Law reminds us via Twitter that Bundy took on some extreme workloads in high school, including a 181-pitch outing and 293 in a four-day period. Bundy himself said at the time that he didn't have a problem with it and wanted to pitch, although not everyone in the Tulsa area was sanguine about the idea, given his professional potential.
Of course, high school and college pitchers frequently take on heavy workloads in playoff or critical games. We can't say for sure that high school overuse is the direct cause of Bundy's current elbow problems, but it does perhaps give us some hint as to why the Orioles were so careful with his workload in 2012. He had a lot of mileage on that arm. Alas, their attempt to prevent a blowout didn't work.
As for the future, I caution against the assumption of an automatic Bundy recovery. Some pitchers come back stronger from Tommy John, but not everyone does. Some guys lose stuff, some lose command, some lose both and never quite get it back. It is not as risky as it used to be, but I don't like the increasingly common meme that it is no big deal. It adds considerable risk and uncertainty to his profile, for me anyway.