Just days ago it was reported that Atlanta Braves top prospect JR Ritchie was dealing with an ailment to his elbow, and it was easy to immediately fear the worst. The worst has unfortunately come to fruition, as JR Ritchie will be undergoing Tommy John surgery which will end his season.
Per sources Braves 2022 first round supplemental pick JR Ritchie will undergo Tommy John surgery later today. The surgery will fix a moderate grade two tear.— Geoff Pontes (@GeoffPontesBA) May 24, 2023
The Braves tend to be more conservative in the recovery timelines for their prospects, and a surgery this late in the season is likely to also keep Ritchie out for the entire 2024 season as well. While he could see some action late in the season if his recovery goes without setback, the Braves tend to favor a timeline closer to 18 months post-surgery which will leave him hoping for a full recovery by the start of 2025. Ritchie is still young, not turning 20 until June 26th this season, so while an injury of this significance is certainly a setback it’s not doom to his career and will give him ample opportunity to still pursue a major league career. Max Fried had a similar path in his minor league career, undergoing Tommy John surgery late in 2014, his age-20 season, as part of the Padres organization. He returned to the field as a Rome Brave in 2016 and would make his major league debut just one year later before becoming a rotation fixture in 2019.
Regardless this is certainly a major blow in the present to a system already thin in talent. The Braves spent significant capital on Ritchie, trading away two prospects last season for the 35th overall pick which allowed them to take Ritchie. The Braves gave Ritchie a $2.4 million signing bonus, which he seemed well on his way to earning as he started his season out with a 0.81 FIP and 25 strikeouts in 13 1⁄3 innings.