JR Ritchie is one of the Atlanta Braves best pitching prospects, but his status has been unknown since he left his start early on May 6th. Mark Bowman dropped a little bit of extra information, and unfortunately he is reporting that it’s Ritchie’s elbow that is the cause for concern. This is a pretty big blow for the system at the moment, as Ritchie had been off to a tremendous start to the season prior to his injury.
JR Ritchie, one of last year's first-round picks, is currently on Low A Augusta's injured list with an elbow injury. The Braves say they are still evaluating the significance of the injury.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) May 21, 2023
Atlanta took Ritchie with the 35th overall pick in last year’s draft, this being the picked they acquired from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for prospects Drew Waters and Andrew Hoffman. Ritchie got off to a fantastic start with seven strikeouts over three perfect innings in his season debut and in 13 1⁄3 innings this season has incredible 25 strikeouts to only three walks which is good for a 0.81 FIP. In Ritchie’s final start on May 6th he seemed to be cruising along, but during a fourth inning at bat threw two pitches that missed badly before calling for the catcher and training staff and leaving the game.
Ritchie is only 19 years old and didn’t have a particularly heavy workload in high school, so regardless of the severity of his elbow injury this hopefully won’t be more than a bump in the road for him. The biggest fear is, of course, Tommy John surgery, but if that is the concern for the Braves they will likely explore other options first. Any such surgery would likely cost him next season as well at this point so there isn’t going to be much need for them to rush any decisions. Ritchie came in as our fourth-best prospect on our preseason top 25 list.