Marlins prospect Brady Puckett had successful Tommy John surgery Tuesday morning to repair a torn right ulnar collateral ligament. He’ll be sidelined throughout the 2019 season. World-renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure in Pensacola, FL.
With a massive 6-foot-8 frame and a game centered around command rather than velocity, Puckett was seemingly a safe bet to avoid severe arm injury.
But throwing a baseball is a physically unnatural act. Every pitcher is vulnerable. The 23-year-old first felt pain in his elbow during a spring training game earlier this month. An MRI confirmed the torn UCL on Monday.
A 15th-round pick out of Lipscomb University in the 2017 MLB Draft, Puckett was among the most successful Marlins pitching prospects over the previous two seasons. He has a career 2.66 earned run average in 176 total innings with nearly five times as many strikeouts (133) as walks (27). What sticks out most is his home run prevention—only five of 725 batters faced have taken him deep.
Puckett was not ranked as a Top 30 Marlins prospect entering 2019 by either Baseball America or MLB Pipeline, but he was certainly trending in that direction. Continued success at High-A Jupiter to force a promotion to Double-A Jacksonville may have gotten him recognition on the midsummer editions of those lists.
A handful of developing starting pitchers in the Marlins system have undergone Tommy John in recent years. Former first-rounder Tyler Kolek never regained his old stuff, while Jordan Holloway returned to action last fall in dynamic fashion and earned a spot on the 40-man roster. Left-hander and Marlins ping pong champ Braxton Garrett is full-go for 2019. Late-round gem Matt Givin remains on track for a season debut in June.