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Back to Florida for Minnesota Twins prospect Connor Prielipp, though he eyes return to Cedar Rapids Kernels
Pitcher made one start for Cedar Rapids before being shutdown with tightness in his surgically repaired left arm
CEDAR RAPIDS — He packed up his spikes, glove and a few other items Saturday afternoon after the Cedar Rapids Kernels lost to West Michigan, 4-0, said a couple of goodbyes and headed out of Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Connor Prielipp says he’ll be back.
“End of June, probably,” he said.
This wasn’t supposed to be how it worked. The plan was for the 22-year-old left-handed pitcher to get some innings in here and establish himself as a bonafide major league prospect.
But Prielipp will leave Sunday for the Minnesota Twins minor league complex in Fort Myers, Fla., to begin a throwing program. He has been shut down since making his professional debut April 8 at Peoria.
“I was just kind of getting used to playing baseball again. Just a little setback,” Prielipp said. “Probably a four-week buildup, then I’ll throw live.”
The Wisconsin native is coming off Tommy John elbow surgery. He threw only 28 innings in three years at the University of Alabama, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the college baseball season early in 2020, then a torn UCL in 2021.
He sat out all last season rehabbing, but threw bullpens that showed enough promise for the Twins to draft him in the second round of last year’s Major League Baseball Draft. Prielipp participated in last fall’s instructional league for the club and looked good in spring training.
But his arm didn’t feel right after throwing four innings in a game earlier this month.
“It didn’t happen until a couple of days after it,” he said. “My forearm just got tight, my arm didn’t have a lot of range of motion. I felt fine (pitching) despite not throwing for a while. I’ll take that.”
A trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., this week to meet with Twins doctors showed Prielipp did not re-injure his elbow. He was diagnosed with a forearm strain.
As he noted, he’ll start throwing again in Florida. Barring any further complications, he’ll get into a game or two in extended spring training or with the low-Class A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, or both, then hopefully be back with the Kernels.
No question he was relieved by his prognosis. No question he was nervous before being given it.
“Yeah, because I’m coming off TJ and haven’t played baseball in, like, three years,” he said. “It kind of sucks. But, you know, it is what it is.”
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