Former Orioles top pick Matt Hobgood, who has battled ineffectiveness and injury in his brief pro career, will have right rotator-cuff surgery April 2 and is expected to miss all of the 2012 season.
The 21-year-old Hobgood, whom the Orioles selected in the first round (fifth overall) in 2009, was shut down earlier this month with shoulder discomfort, something that previously has hampered him in his career.
He was examined by Dr. Craig Morgan earlier this week and surgery to repair the shoulder was recommended, according to John Stockstill, the Orioles' director of player development.
Morgan, a shoulder specialist, will perform the surgery in Wilmington, Del. He will be “sizing down” Hobgood’s rotator cuff so that it fits better with the shoulder capsule. It often takes pitchers 12 to 18 months to fully come back shoulder surgery.
“I think he feels like this is a step in getting back to where he was,” Stockstill said.
In his first three seasons in the minors, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Hobgood struggled to live up to the hefty $2.42 million bonus he received in 2009. He could never consistently replicate the mid-90s fastball he flashed in high school and was also criticized early on for his conditioning.
This year the club was pleased with the shape that Hobgood was in when he came into camp.
“You give the kid credit. He worked very hard, he came in top shape and it just didn’t work. His shoulder didn’t feel right,” Stockstill said. “Hopefully, this will repair it.”
Injuries undoubtedly have played a significant part in limiting Hobgood to 42 games in a three-season career. Overall, he has posted a combined 4-15 record and 5.48 ERA, and has not advanced beyond Low-A Delmarva, which he played for in 2010.
Hobgood’s selection by the Orioles and then-amateur scouting director Joe Jordan was regarded as a bit of a reach by draft pundits at the time. Several evaluators had projected him to go in the second half of the first round.
In retrospect, the club passed on several pitchers who have already made, or are close to, the majors, including Zach Wheeler, Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Jacob Turner, Drew Storen, Aaron Crow, Alex White and Shelby Miller.