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Arodys Vizcaino And The Reminder Nobody Needed

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Don't feel bad if you've never heard of Arodys Vizcaino. He is a top prospect, and he has some Major League experience, but he has limited Major League experience, and he's a top prospect in the NL, which is kind of off a lot of people's radars. He's one of the guys who went from the Yankees to the Braves in the Javier Vazquez trade. Before 2010, Baseball America ranked him the No. 3 prospect in the Yankees' system, and the No. 69 prospect overall. Before 2011, BA ranked him the No. 7 prospect in the Braves' system, and the No. 93 prospect overall. Before 2012, BA ranked him the No. 2 prospect in the Braves' system, and the No. 40 prospect overall. He's in there between Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, two other guys you may or may not have heard of.

Vizcaino's good, and Vizcaino's 21. He struck out a batter an inning in the Majors. He's struck out better than a batter an inning in the minors. Vizcaino's got an incredibly high ceiling. And now he's going to be delayed in trying to reach it, because Arodys Vizcaino needed to have a ligament removed from his elbow and replaced by a ligament from another part of his body.

That's Tommy John surgery, in other words. Vizcaino went to camp looking good for a roster spot. He was shut down for a few days with elbow inflammation, but the Braves weren't concerned. Still, he was evaluated further, and ultimately he went under the knife. Vizcaino's now out for 2012, and possibly the start of 2013. A full recovery in time is expected, but by no means assumed or guaranteed.

Everywhere you look, there's excitement about the Mariners' crop of young pitching prospects. Some people like Danny Hultzen the most, some people like James Paxton the most, and some people like Taijuan Walker the most. I don't think anybody likes Erasmo Ramirez the most, but people like him, too, and he's 21 years old. He's the closest to seeing the Majors. There are a lot of people who are counting on these guys to make a difference in 2013 and beyond.

Well, I mean, nobody needs to be reminded that young pitchers are fragile. Old pitchers are fragile, too, but young pitchers just break. They can break just by being looked at. They don't break for no reason, but they break for reasons we don't quite understand, and can't quite predict.

We've been through this before. The Mariners famously had a stockpile of pitching prospects a decade ago. By and large, they got eaten up. Vizcaino is evidence that pitching prospect injuries aren't a thing of the past. These things still happen, and they can be guarded against only so much.

Again, this isn't news. Everybody knows the risks of pitching prospects. But it really does help to be reminded, because as much as you want to roll your eyes and say "well of course", sometimes you forget about the risk, or sometimes you minimize the risk. It's great to see the Mariners' system getting hyped, but hype can be dangerous. Hype can cause one to think of something as being invulnerable, or less vulnerable than it is. The Mariners have excellent pitching prospects. They're pitching prospects.

Just, be careful, is all. The good news about Vizcaino is that he should be fine in a year or a year and a half. Tommy John surgery today is more of a delay than a disaster. But it's still a very significant delay, Vizcaino might not return how he was, and there are other ways that pitchers can get hurt. Worse ways, in terms of long-term outlook.

Nobody needed to be reminded that pitching prospects are delicate. We've been reminded anyway. Keep Arodys Vizcaino in the back of your brain and you'll be better positioned to deal with whatever ends up happening, be it all good, bad, or somewhere in between.