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Phillies pitching prospect Andrew Painter has sprained elbow

Philadelphia Phillies v Minnesota Twins

FORT MYERS, FL- MARCH 01: Andrew Painter #76 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins on March 1, 2023 at the Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

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CLEARWATER, Fla. - Top Philadelphia Phillies prospect Andrew Painter won’t throw for four weeks because of a sprained ligament in his right elbow.

The 19-year-old right-hander’s fastball touched 99 mph in his spring training debut on March 1 against Minnesota, and he came into camp the next day and said he felt “tenderness” in his elbow.

He underwent an MRI on March 3 and the Phillies said Friday that a second opinion confirmed a right proximal ulnar collateral ligament sprain.

Medical staff and Painter’s doctor recommended Painter rest for four weeks from the date of injury and then begin a light tossing progression.

“It’s pretty mild,” Painter told reporters at spring training. “This is just kind of something we’re going to take cautiously.”

Philadelphia has been cautious with Painter throughout the minor leagues. Painter sprinted through Philadelphia’s system in 2022, going 6-2 with a 1.48 ERA in 26 appearances spread across two Class A squads and Double-A Reading.

Painter emerged the top candidate to win the Phillies’ fifth-starter job as he attempted to crack the starting rotation before his 20th birthday on April 10. That role could fall to Bailey Falter.

Painter said he felt ‘pretty confident” he would return to pitch this season and could avoid surgery.

“The plan is to start tossing, hopefully three or four weeks,” he said. “See where that goes and how it feels and go from there.”

The 6-foot-7 Painter was the 13th overall pick in the 2021 amateur draft and signed for a $3.9 million bonus. He, nearly reached 100 mph on the radar gun while facing Carlos Correa in the first inning last week.