Detroit Tigers prospect Joey Wentz out for season after Tommy John surgery

Anthony Fenech
Detroit Free Press

Joey Wentz is sidelined indefinitely.

Wentz, the Detroit Tigers’ left-handed pitching prospect, underwent elbow ligament reconstruction surgery earlier this week, the team announced Wednesday morning.

It is commonly referred to as Tommy John surgery, named after the former All-Star pitcher who had a career renaissance after undergoing the procedure in the 1970s.

Wentz, 22, experienced the Tigers’ first injury hiccup of spring training this year, missing time with left forearm soreness. He also is the team’s first major injury of 2020.

Wentz was acquired from the Braves as part of the package for closer Shane Greene at the 2019 trade deadline. The Tigers also acquired outfielder Travis Demeritte in that deal.

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He pitched well after the trade, posting a 2.10 ERA and 0.93 WHIP with 38 strikeouts in 25⅔ innings. Perhaps the change of scenery did him well: Wentz combined for a 4.20 ERA and 1.23 WHIP between Erie and Double-A Mississippi in 2019.

Pitcher Joey Wentz, center, warms up during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.

For his career, Wentz has posted a 3.22 ERA and 1.174 WHIP with more than a strikeout per inning in four seasons. He was expected to serve as starting pitching depth behind the likes of righties Matt Manning, Casey Mize and lefty Tarik Skubal — likely starting at Erie, given the Tigers’ logjam of prospects in the upper minors — but now he likely will be sidelined until 2021.

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The typical recovery timetable for elbow ligament reconstruction surgery is 14 to 16 months.

Wentz’s surgery was performed by Dr. David Altcheck in West Palm Beach, Florida, according to the Tigers.

Wentz was Atlanta’s first-round pick in the 2016 MLB draft.

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