University of Arkansas right-hander Peyton Pallette will miss the 2022 college baseball season with an elbow ligament injury that will require Tommy John surgery, reports Kendall Rogers of D1 Baseball. The No. 2 ranked Razorbacks have since confirmed Pallette's injury.
Pallette came into 2022 as a projected first round selection in this June's draft, with a chance to go as high as the top 10-15 picks. Baseball America initially ranked Pallette as the No. 13 prospect in the draft class (and the No. 2 college pitcher) before dropping him down to No. 29 following the news of his Tommy John surgery.
Tommy John surgery is not a dealbreaker for teams on draft day and Pallette could still be selected relatively high. Last year Ole Miss righty Gunnar Hoglund, a potential top 10 pick, needed Tommy John surgery in May and was selected No. 19 overall by the Blue Jays. They paid him a $3.25 million signing bonus. Others like Nationals righty Erick Fedde and Yankees righty Clarke Schmidt were selected in the first round in the recent years despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in the weeks leading up to the draft.
Pallette draws comparisons to Walker Buehler with his wiry 6-foot-1 build and quality stuff. His quick arm produces fastballs that sit at 93-95 mph and climb as high as 99 with riding action, though they generated a surprisingly low 19 percent swing-and-miss rate last spring. His best pitch is a hammer 78-83 mph curveball with high spin rates and depth that confound both left-handers and right-handers.
Pallette also uses a changeup against lefties, and it's a bit firm in the upper 80s but he keeps it off barrels with some fade and sink. He has more velocity but less polish than Buehler exhibited in college at Vanderbilt, and he'll need to repeat his mechanics more consistently to develop better than average control. He could profile as a No. 2 starter if he proves he can handle the workload.
Last year Pallette posted a 4.02 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 56 innings for Arkansas. He was shut down in May with an elbow issue but was cleared to resume throwing bullpen sessions during fall workouts. Pallette's elbow began to act up again earlier this month.
"He seems to be 100 percent healthy, throwing the ball better than ever," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn told Rivals.com in the fall. "He's gotten bigger and stronger. He's really starting to look the part. He's matured a lot physically and mentally and we're expecting big things out of him hopefully."
These days the typical Tommy John surgery rehab time frame is 14-16 months. As long as there are no complications, Pallette should return in the middle of next summer. Teams that gain an extra draft pick(s) through free agent compensation and/or the competitive balance lottery are best positioned to roll the dice on injured prospects like Pallette.