An already disappointing Marlins season took a turn for the worse Thursday, as MLB.com’s Christina De Nicola tweets that an MRI revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the top pitching prospect Max Meyerright elbow. He will undergo Tommy John surgery in the near future and miss the remainder of the 2022 campaign as well as most of the 2023 season.
Meyer, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft, soared through the Marlins system and made his debut earlier this month, yielding five runs in 5 1/3 innings of work. His next outing lasted just two-thirds of an inning before exiting due to elbow discomfort that sent him to the injured list. He will now spend the remainder of the season and most of the 2023 campaign on the major league injured list, accumulating MLB service time and paying for time spent rehabbing.
Before that rocky big league debut and subsequent injury, Meyer was universally regarded as one of the sport’s brightest pitching prospects. The former University of Minnesota ace pitched through Double-A last season and was even better in a 10-inning look at Triple-A last year. .
The 23-year-old Meyer roared out of the gates in 2022, posting a 1.72 ERA and 39-to-9 K/BB ratio in his first 31 1/3 innings, overpowering opponents with an upper-90s heater and a devastating thrust line. the road. He struggled through a pair of terrible outings in late May with Triple-A Jacksonville, but eventually went on the minor league injured list with what the team called irritation of the ulnar nerve in his right forearm. He came back strong – 2.11 ERA over his next five starts – and appeared to be back on track for this month’s big league debut.
Whether Meyer had a tear before his promotion to the big leagues or couldn’t handle the tear before one of his two MLB outings, he’ll now be on the sidelines for the next year-plus. A return late in the 2023 season is still plausible, but it is unlikely to be a given. Every recovery is different, of course, but it often takes closer to 13 or 14 months for pitchers to come back from Tommy John surgery. For example, we’re about a year to the day removed from the Tigers righty Spencer Turnbull is undergoing his own Tommy John procedure, and the organization recently announced that Turnbull will not return this season. If the Marlins are in contention in 2023, they might want to push the envelope and take some risk to bring Meyer back as a late-year bullpen option, but they have every reason to be wary of the flamethrowing righty given how important a role he can play in their future.
Meyer joins other top prospects Edward Cabrera (tendonitis of the elbow), Sixto Sanchez (2021 surgery for torn anterior capsule in the shoulder) and Jake Eder (2021 Tommy John surgery) on the injured list. Miami has also seen a 2021 Rookie of the Year candidate Trevor Rogers take a big step back in the second season. It’s all a good reminder — especially at a time of year when fans and teams alike are wary of trading minor league pitching — that as easy as it is to dream about highlighted young arms, the attrition rate for pitching prospects is a unyielding roadblock the teams are forever struggling to navigate.