DETROIT – Joey Wentz, one of the top pitching prospects in the Detroit Tigers’ organization, will miss more than a year after having Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.
The team announced Wednesday that Wentz underwent successful left elbow UCL reconstruction surgery. The procedure was performed Tuesday by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Wentz is expected to be out for 14 to 16 months, according to the Tigers.
This is a major blow to an organization that has built its foundation on young pitching talent. Wentz is among an elite group that includes Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez in the team’s minor league system.
He is the No. 8 prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline and the No. 11 prospect according to Baseball America.
Wentz was acquired at the 2019 trade deadline in a deal that sent closer Shane Greene to the Atlanta Braves. Detroit also received outfielder Travis Demeritte in the swap.
Atlanta drafted Wentz with the No. 40 overall pick in the first-round of the 2016 draft. As a 19-year-old he dominated Single-A, striking out 152 batters in 131.2 innings with a 2.50 ERA and 1.101 WHIP. The following season, he battled injuries to post a 2.28 ERA and 1.090 WHIP in High-A ball, though the strikeouts plummeted to 7.1 per nine innings.
Wentz dropped from the No. 46 prospect in baseball to outside the top 100 and was struggling at Double-A Mississippi before the trade to Detroit.
The change of scenery did wonders for Wentz, who was completely dominant in Double-A Erie.
While pitching alongside Mize, Manning, Faedo and Skubal in Erie, he put together the best short stretch of his career. Wentz allowed just 20 hits, four walks and six runs in 25.2 innings. He struck out 37 batters while posting a 2.10 ERA and 0.935 WHIP.
He got whiffs on 19% of his pitches, including two starts of at least 20 swings and misses. In other words, he was completely dominant.
But now, the 22-year-old’s entire 2020 season will be wiped out, and the 2021 campaign will be affected, as well.