Padres top prospect Kelly might be out for year

PEORIA, Ariz. — The San Diego Padres are facing the possibility that right-hander Casey Kelly – their top prospect, according to Baseball America – will be lost for the next year due to Tommy John elbow surgery.

Kelly, 23, underwent tests on his right elbow this week, and Padres manager Bud Black said, “The doctors are concerned.” Asked if Tommy John surgery is possible, Black said, “Anything’s possible. … It is the part of the elbow we’re concerned about.”

Kelly was limited to 14 starts in the majors and minors last year because of an elbow strain. When Tommy John surgery is required to replace a torn ligament, the recovery time for a starting pitcher is typically 12 months.

“There’s going to be a lot of discussion between Casey and Casey’s family,” Black said. “His dad’s at the game. I assume they’ll probably want a second opinion to make sure all their bases are covered in regard to the elbow situation.”

The top four spots in San Diego’s rotation tentatively belong to Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard, Jason Marquis and Eric Stults, with an open competition for the fifth spot. If healthy, Kelly would have been a candidate.

“We think a lot of Casey,” Black said. “He was definitely in the mix to be in our rotation. … It’s a blow for the organization, a blow for Casey, because he’s been progressing well.”