Angels’ left-hander Nate Smith will miss the entire 2018 season following anterior capsule surgery, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reported Saturday. Smith underwent the surgery in September, but will still need an estimated 12-14 months to make a full recovery.
Surgery was a predictable end to a frustrating season for the 26-year-old lefty, who logged just 15 innings between rookie ball and Triple-A Salt Lake City in 2017. He made one start for Salt Lake in May, tossing 5 2/3 innings of one-hit, four-strikeout ball before getting demoted to the Arizona League in June. The Angels’ southpaw hasn’t seen a full season of work since 2016, which was also cut short when he suffered a bout of left elbow tendinitis in September.
Smith is the fifth-best pitching prospect in the Angels’ farm system, per MLB.com, and ninth overall. His anticipated return date is set for sometime in 2019 — though his agent, Jonathan Maurer, hasn’t ruled out a possible 2018 assignment — which should bump 19-year-old southpaw Cole Duensing up several spots as the Angels’ highest-rated left-handed pitching prospect.