Though the Atlanta Braves have a bevy of arms in the their system, one recently found out he would need Tommy John surgery and miss the 2018 season.
Patrick Weigel has been rocketing through the Braves farm system after being drafted in 7th round in 2015 out of the University of Houston. Thought of more as a reliever coming out of college, the Braves allowed Weigel to progress at his own pace as a starter and it began paying dividends in his first full season of professional baseball.
He began the year at Single-A Rome, tossing 129 innings and going 10-4 with a 2.51 ERA. He racked up 135 strikeouts before an end of the season promotion to Double-A Mississippi, where he made 3 starts, tossing another 20 and 2/3 innings and posting a 2.18 ERA. For his performance, Weigel was named the 2016 Braves’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Weigel began the 2017 season back at Double-A Mississippi, making 7 starts and tossing 37 innings, posting a 2.89 ERA before being promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett. After the promotion, it looked like Weigel was on the fast track to the big leagues, breezing to 3-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 5 May starts.
The trouble began there and after three starts where his velocity dipped and he had trouble missing bats, Weigel had an MRI on his right elbow, revealing ligament damage that would result in Tommy John surgery. The surgery was done on Tuesday afternoon by prominent sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
Recovery time is typically 12-14 months, but the Braves have recently brought their pitchers back at a slower pace, so 14-16 months is probably a safe bet for recovery time.
After watching Sean Newcomb dazzle at the big league level over his first four starts, Braves fans had pegged Weigel as the next best candidate to get the call to make his debut. Those plans will have to be put on hold for the foreseeable future.
While this is certainly a setback for Weigel, at 22, he is still young and there is plenty of time for him to rehabilitate his elbow. If everything goes according to plan, he should make his major league debut on return in 2019, assuming he has a feel for his pitches once again.