Twins prospect Austin Martin has been shut down with a sprained UCL, according to The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman. It is currently unknown what Martin’s timetable for return looks like. That being said, UCL sprains are common precursors to Tommy John surgery. While that procedure is more serious for pitchers than position players, such a surgery would likely spell the end of Martin’s 2023 season if it were to be deemed necessary.
Martin, 24 later this month, was taken by the Blue Jays as the 5th overall pick in the 2020 draft. Upon being traded to the Twins as part of the Jose Berrios deal, he was a highly regarded prospect, nearly cracking the top 20 of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects list in 2021 and slashing an above average .270/.414/.382 during his first professional campaign. Since that time, though, Martin missed six weeks of the 2022 season with injury and struggled mightily when he was able to take the field, slashing just .241/.367/.315 in a repeat of the Double-A level last year, good for a below average wRC+ of just 89, though he did steal an impressive 34 bases in 90 Double-A games while being caught just 5 times.
As previously mentioned, the timetable for Martin’s return to action is currently unknown. Regardless of whether Martin’s ultimate prognosis is that severe or something less serious, though, the former top prospect has hit another frustrating roadblock on his path to the big leagues. Even a relatively short absence would force Martin to prove his health on top of returning to form offensively in order to get on the radar for a big league debut sometime this year. Martin is Rule 5 eligible this offseason, meaning the Twins will have to add him to the 40-man roster or risk him being selected by another club in the Rule 5 Draft this December.
As for Minnesota, their remarkable position player depth should allow them to weather this injury relatively painlessly. While it’s certainly unfortunate to potentially lose an upper-minors prospect who could be plugged into the infield or outfield as necessary, particularly with Royce Lewis and Gilberto Celestino already on the shelf, the Twins still figure to have Trevor Larnach, Matt Wallner, and 2022 first round pick Brooks Lee starting the season in the upper levels of their minor league system, and possess a deep bench including Kyle Farmer, Donovan Solano, and Michael A. Taylor.