Miami Marlins prospect Braxton Garrett may need Tommy John surgery

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Marlins dearth at the minor league level is well documented. On Wednesday, it was announced that their top prospect might be on the shelf for a while.

Miami Marlins fans received some bad news yesterday. According to a report published in the Miami Herald, top pitching prospect Braxton Garrett might need Tommy John surgery. If he does, that pushes his estimated arrival date in the Major Leagues back considerably.

Already lacking depth at the minor league level, this is bad news for the Fish. Garrett had the makings of a top of the rotation starter, possibly an ace. The Miami Marlins were as cautious with him as possible, but it doesn’t appear to have made much of a difference.

The Marlins now face the reality that the top two pitchers in their system have had elbow surgery.

The Miami Marlins selected right handed pitcher Tyler Kolek with their first overall pick in 2014. Kolek underwent the surgery and missed the entirety of the 2016 season. It remains unclear how well he will pitch when he makes his return to game action.

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A recent MRI revealed that Braxton Garrett is pitching with a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. The tear might need surgery fully heal. He was off to a great start in his first taste of professional baseball action before hitting a wall in his most recent start.

He made only four starts before the team realized something was wrong. In his first three, he shined. He pitched a combined 13.2 innings, allowing only one earned run on seven hits. His ERA was a minuscule 0.66 in those starts.

His fourth start was a different story. Garrett was a shell of himself, lasting only 1.2 innings and allowing four earned runs. He still managed four strikeouts, but after giving up two home runs, he was pulled after 48 pitches and complaints of discomfort in his pitching elbow.

Not the worst thing that could have happened

Tommy John surgery has become fairly commonplace in the world of professional baseball pitching. Increasingly so amongst young pitchers. You’ll recall that our own Jose Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery, and returned every bit Jose as ever.

There are a number of other examples of players who underwent surgery and returned to form.

John Smoltz underwent the surgery in 2000 and returned to pitch another 1,058 innings, and make four All-Star appearances. Stephen Strasburg needed the surgery shortly after making his highly anticipated Major League debut. He still manages to ramp it up into the high 90’s, and has lived up to massive expectations.

The Marlins very own Edinson Volquez needed the surgery in 2009, and he pitched a no-hitter in his start agains the Diamondbacks.

Consider it a microcosm of the way pitchers are pitching in the contemporary MLB. They’re throwing harder and with more torque than ever before. They’re throwing more max pitches than ever before.

News of Braxton Garrett needing surgery isn’t ideal, but it also isn’t the nail in the coffin of his potential. With careful rehabilitation and diligence, he can return to full capacity and pitch without discomfort. The same is true for righty Tyler Kolek.

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The Miami Marlins might be waiting a little longer than they originally hoped for Braxton Garrett. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be waiting forever. Along with Tyler Kolek, they still stand to form a potent one-two punch for the Miami Marlins future rotation.