The Tigers will be without one of their prized pitching prospects until next summer. Joey Wentz, who vaulted up Detroit’s ranks after coming over from the Braves in the Shane Greene trade, underwent Tommy John surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.
Wentz is expected to miss 14-16 months. Dr. David Altchek performed the procedure Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The 22-year-old Wentz ranks eighth on the Tigers’ Top 30 prospects list, per MLB Pipeline. The former first-round Draft pick made an early impression with an outstanding final month at Double-A Erie last summer, posting a 2-0 record with a 2.10 ERA and a 37-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 25 2/3 innings. His precise command and mix of pitches give him a chance to slot into the back of a future Tigers rotation with fellow top 10 pitching prospects Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal and Alex Faedo.
Wentz joined that group in big league camp this Spring Training as a non-roster invite, but he was sidelined early in workouts with a left forearm strain. He began a throwing progression a couple of weeks later, after receiving treatment, but he never reached game action.
Wentz’s surgery is the first major procedure among Detroit’s corps of young arms. Former Tigers top prospect Franklin Perez showed promise this spring in his return from right shoulder inflammation before being optioned to Class A Advanced Lakeland. Current No. 1 prospect Mize was shut down in mid-August last season but was both healthy and impressive in Spring Training with the big club.