Mike Nikorak has experienced another setback in his development. Baseball America is reporting that Nikorak will undergo Tommy John surgery today and will miss all of this season and probably a large portion of the 2018 season.
This is the second Rockies prospect that will have undergone Tommy John surgery already this year. Rayan Gonzalez already had Tommy John surgery earlier this spring.
While a torn UCL is no longer the death sentence for a pitcher’s career that it once was due to advancements in surgery and rehabilitation, it is still a setback for a pitcher that already spent two years in Rookie ball trying to find his command.
Nikorak had finally appeared to turn a corner this spring with simplified and more consistent mechanics. Baseball America also reported that Nikorak was throwing 96-98 mph this spring with better command. That’s a dramatic increase from when I saw Nikorak last summer pitching for the Grand Junction Rockies, when he was throwing 93-95 and struggling to hit his spots. In 29 1⁄3 innings for Grand Junction last year, Nikoark walked 19 batters. While still not good, it was a drastic improvement over his debut season when he walked 32 in 17 2⁄3 innings.
Because he was a high school pick, he will still only be 21-years-old when he is expected to return sometime next season. Even if he misses all of next season rehabilitating, Nikorak will only be 22 to start the 2019 season. There will still be plenty of time for him to develop and contribute at the big-league level; however, that journey just got much harder.