Texas Rangers

Rangers lose Owen White, another young pitching prospect, to Tommy John surgery

Another season, another rash of elbow injuries for Texas Rangers prospect.

Owen White, the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2018, was scheduled for Tommy John surgery Wednesday after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow last week at extended spring training.

White joined fourth-rounder Mason Englert, a right-hander from Forney, on the shelf. Englert underwent the operation last month.

The Rangers lost three prospects to Tommy John surgery last season -- left-hander Cole Ragans, the 2016 first-round pick; righty Alex Speas, the second-rounder in 2016; and righty Kyle Cody, the Rangers’ 2017 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Joe Palumbo underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017.

General manager Jon Daniels said that the Rangers don’t have the full scope of what caused White’s injury, and on a larger scale wants to understand why these injuries continue to happen.

“As an industry we really struggle keeping elbow healthy right now,” Daniels said. “It’s definitely concerning. You’ve got multiple guys, multiple of our young guys the last few years having it. Some of it is workload and being a pro, but you want to look at everything we’ve been doing preventive care-wise.”

Englert was injured after ramping up his off-season throwing program to quickly. The thought as late as the end of spring training was that he didn’t need to have the surgery.

White was injured last week.

“Unless you’re getting MRIs every week, it’s to truly identify the moment that damage had been done,” Daniels said. “He actually threw great. He came out of the outing, felt a little tight and had an MRI that revealed the damage.”

The Rangers had penciled in White and Englert, along with first-rounder Cole Winn, to begin their careers with Short-Season A Spokane, skipping the Arizona League. Winn continues to throw without any issues.

They were among the handful of draft choices the Rangers didn’t allow to pitch last summer while putting them through conditioning work and trying to expose them to the demands of professional baseball.

The Rangers have been exploring the effect a workload has on young pitchers.

“Ultimately, the reason that we did put the program in place was both as an organization and an industry we’re having too many elbow issues,” Daniels said. “I can’t sit here with enough confidence to say definitely what led to it, other than it’s an issue we have to get our arms around.

“And I say we, first as an organization and second as an industry. This latest rash makes us all sick. We’re far from the only ones dealing with it.”

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After 12 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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