Dodgers’ No.1 pick, Walker Buehler, to have elbow surgery Wednesday

Walker Buehler
Walker Buehler of Vanderbilt was the Dodgers’ top draft pick in 2015. The 2016 draft opens Thursday.
(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

Sometimes you hear those rumors and just don’t want to believe them, no matter how much you just suspect they’re true.

Alas, this one was.

The Dodgers have officially announced that recent first-round pick Walker Buehler will undergo Tommy John surgery by Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

The right-hander from Vanderbilt was taken with the 24th overall pick by the Dodgers in June and signed last month for $1.78 million. That’s about $300,000 less than the recommended bonus for his draft position, but he was signed after the Dodgers learned of his elbow problems in his physical.


The reconstructive elbow surgery means Buehler will be out 12 to 18 months. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Keith Law of ESPN originally reported Buehler would need Tommy John surgery.

“We still think he is one of the top pitching talents in the draft,” said Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi. “We have the luxury of being able to play the long game. Even if it puts him a year behind, we think when he comes back he’s going to justify where we selected him.”

Until then, it’s not looking like the best draft for the Dodgers.

In addition to Buehler’s uncertain future, 35th overall pick Kyle Funkhouser did not sign and elected to return to the University of Louisville. The Dodgers used their compensatory pick they received when Hanley Ramirez signed with the Red Sox on Funkhouser, also a right-handed pitcher.


Teams are not allowed to have players take physicals prior to the draft. Farhan said the Dodgers were aware Buehler demonstrated some symptoms of elbow issues prior to the draft.

“But a week before we drafted him, he pitched in the College World Series and hit 97” miles per hour, Zaidi said. “Knowing his symptoms, there’s always some degree of risk, but we didn’t know for sure until we had our full medical exam with scans and our consultation with Dr. ElAttrache.”

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