Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kyle Lotzkar Suffers a Setback

I mentioned in the comments a couple of weeks ago that I would be a bit surprised if Kyle Lotzkar wasn't back and throwing by June 1.

Well...surprise.

Sadly, not every surprise is a good one and that certainly holds true in this case.

Back in the early part of 2009, Baseball America reported that last year Lotzkar was back throwing off flat ground just 1 month after the injury and didn't show any lingering effects during the instructional league. In addition, they recently reported that Lotzkar was being held back in extended spring training and would be joining a minor league team soon.

Unfortunately, it now seems that Lotzkar has suffered a setback in his recovery. In fact, as often happens with this type of injury, Lotzkar may have reaggravated the fracture in the elbow. This qualifies as really bad news. At the time it happened, it appeared that it was a minor fracture that would not require surgery. However, it has yet to heal properly and if he indeed aggravated the fracture, then it could be the type of lingering problem that causes significant problems for a pitcher.

I talked extensively about stress fractures in my write up of Kyle Lotzkar, which also mentioned the struggles Adam Loewen had with a similar injury. Ultimately, Loewen chose to give up pitching, rather than undergo another surgery, to focus on a career as a position player. Pitching is a very unnatural motion and it generates a significant amount of stress on the arm. Stress fractures are much more commonly found in the legs, which support the weight of the body. They are much more rarely found in the arm, but that speaks to the stress generated by the act of throwing a baseball at high velocity.

Lotzkar's mechanics have always been a redflag and they are the reason why I have never ranked him higher in the prospect lists. Unfortunately, this injury is likely, at least in part, to be a result of his mechanics. Hopefully, he can bounce back strong from this injury and avoid a recurrence in the future, but the fact that this injury is lingering is a definite cause for concern.

Lotzkar's setback further highlights the current lack of impact pitching prospects in the Reds farm system. Hopefully, they can address this shortfall in the upcoming draft or on the international free agent market.

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