After six years in the minors Mike Aviles came out of nowhere last season to hit .325 in 102 games as a 27-year-old rookie, finishing fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting and seemingly establishing himself as the Royals' shortstop for the near future.
This season has unfortunately been a completely different story for Aviles, as he batted just .183 through 36 games before landing on the disabled list in mid-May with a strained forearm. His forearm soreness turned out to be a torn elbow ligament and the Royals announced this afternoon that Aviles will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
While hitters tend to come back from Tommy John surgery sooner and more easily than pitchers, Aviles is still facing at least nine months of rehab and an uncertain future. He's unlikely to be ready for Opening Day next April and could easily be sidelined for much of the first half, which means that Aviles will be 29 years old by the time he puts on a Royals uniform again.
Aviles' minor-league resume suggested that he was playing quite a bit over his head as a rookie, but his track record definitely showed that he was capable of being a solid player. Sadly, after playing over 600 games in the minors before making it the big leagues he's now facing a long road back to the majors and the Royals are left with the motley crew of Willie Bloomquist, Tony Pena Jr., and Luis Hernandez at shortstop.