Sam Stafford’s shoulder has proven to be quite problematic.
The senior southpaw was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of last June’s MLB draft, but could not come to an agreement with the Yankees, who were concerned about Stafford’s shoulder injury.
Stafford, who was expected to be the Longhorns’ ace, will now miss the entire season after undergoing shoulder surgery. After experiencing tightness in his shoulder, Stafford had an MRI and found out that he had not fully healed. He could have surgery as early as next week and has the option of redshirting and returning for the 2013 season.
After freshman and sophomore seasons that saw Stafford make only 11 appearances, Stafford came on strong during his junior year. He made 17 starts, posted a 6-2 record and a 1.77 ERA while striking out 91, walking a team-high 42 in 81.1 innings and holding opposing hitters to a .189 batting average.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound left-hander was the only starting pitcher remaining from a rotation that carried Texas to its NCAA-record 34th College World Series appearance last season. Dick Howser Trophy winner Taylor Jungmann and Cole Green were the other two members of that vaunted group of starting pitchers that combined to go 27-9 with a 2.14 ERA.
With Stafford, Jungmann and Green gone, the Longhorns will have to revamp their rotation. Sophomore right-hander Nathan Thornhill and junior left-hander Hoby Milner are both candidates to replace Stafford as Texas’ No. 1 pitcher and Friday starter. Thornhill, a starting quarterback and standout starting pitcher in high school at Cedar Park, posted a 3-0 mark and 1.89 ERA last season while Milner was 7-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 2011.
True freshman John Curtiss, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hander who was a USA Today second-team All-American selection as a senior at Southlake Carroll last season, is expected to begin the year as a starting pitcher as well.
Curtiss, a 30th-round pick by the Colorado Rockies coming out of high school, put up a 9-0 record and 0.96 ERA while striking out 101 a year ago.
The news of Stafford being lost for the season comes less than a week after Texas announced that sophomore outfielder Cohl Walla suffered a season-ending injury of his own as the Lake Travis product tore his left ACL in practice.
After Stafford’s surgery, the Longhorns will be without both their leadoff hitter and best starting pitcher.
Printed on Monday, February 13, 2012 as: Stafford sidelined for year with injury