Rays prospect Burch Smith needs Tommy John surgery

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Pitching prospect Burch Smith, whom the Rays acquired from the Padres in this winter’s 11-player deal also involving the Nationals, has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Smith missed most of last year with a forearm strain, so while the Rays are no doubt disappointed by this news they acquired him at a discount rate in part because of the injury history.

He’ll miss all of 2015 and try to return in early 2016, but it may be as a reliever given pre-surgery questions about whether he was better suited for bullpen work anyway.