Braves' Vizcaino has Tommy John surgery

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Arodys Vizcaino was able to avoid Tommy John surgery two years ago. He and the Braves weren't so fortunate this time.

Vizcaino, rated as Atlanta's No. 2 prospect by MLB.com and Baseball America, underwent reconstructive elbow surgery Tuesday performed by Dr. James Andrews and will miss the 2012 season.

The 21-year-old right-hander experienced elbow soreness while pitching in the Grapefruit League opener against Detroit on March 3 and had been out since. The native of the Dominican Republic was converted to the bullpen midway through last season and reached Atlanta in August after six appearances with Gwinnett.

Baseball America ranked Vizcaino as the No. 1 relief prospect in baseball coming into this season and he was a strong candidate to open the year in Atlanta.

MLB.com ranks Vizcaino at No. 36 on its Top 100 list of prospects. He is ranked No. 40 by Baseball America.

Vizcaino suffered a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in 2010, but rehabbed his elbow and was able to avoid reconstructive surgery then, but Dr. Andrews determined that rest wasn't enough this time.

Vizcaino was part of the trade that sent Javier Vazquez to the New York Yankees after the 2009 season and was always a starter before being moved to the bullpen at midseason last year.

After three appearances with Class AA Mississippi, Vizcaino was promoted to Gwinnett, where he was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and had eight strikeouts to no walks in seven innings. He got into 17 games with Atlanta and had 17 strikeouts in 17 innings while going 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA.

Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, Kris Medlen and Cristhian Martinez will occupy five of the seven spots in the Atlanta bullpen. The other two members will come from among a group of candidates that includes Cory Gearrin, Adam Russell, Jose Asencio and Anthony Varvaro.