Texas A&M righthander John Stilson, who likely would have been a first-round pick in the 2011 draft, will miss the rest of the season and faces surgery after being diagnosed with a SLAP (superior labrum from anterior to posterior) tear in his throwing shoulder.
Stilson first injured his shoulder May 5, when he pitched five shutout innings against Dallas Baptist. He missed a start, then returned against Texas on May 19. He was uncharacteristically wild against the Longhorns, walking seven over 6 1/3 innings in a loss to projected first-rounder Taylor Jungmann. After the Aggies scratched Stilson from his start in the first round of the Big 12 Conference tournament on Wednesday, an MRI revealed the labrum tear.
It's impossible not to wonder if the way Stilson has been used in his Texas A&M career played a role in the deterioration of his shoulder. Most jarringly, last year in the Coral Gables Regional, Stilson threw three scoreless innings of relief against Dartmouth—interrupted by an hour-long rain delay—and came back later in the day to throw 3 2/3 scoreless innings against Miami. The Aggies rode him hard as a relief ace in 2010—he threw 79 innings over 33 appearances. And it's worth noting that he threw an inning of relief in a Tuesday game against Texas-San Antonio on May 3, two days before his Thursday start against Dallas Baptist.
Stilson ranked No. 23 on Baseball America's Top 200 Prospects list before the injury. After spending his freshman season at Texarkana (Texas) JC in 2009, he led NCAA Division I in ERA (0.80) as a reliever in his first season with the Aggies. He moved into the rotation this spring and went 5-2, 1.68 with 92 strikeouts in 91 innings. When healthy, he threw a 91-94 mph fastball, a dynamic changeup and a hard breaking ball.
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