Braves injury luck bleeds into farm system, top prospect hits IL

Spencer Schwellenbach Braves hat Ray Kerr

As if the major league club hadn’t been dealt enough injuries, the Braves minor league teams aren’t avoiding the bug either. Mark Bowman reports that former first-round pick and one of Atlanta’s top prospects, JR Ritchie, is dealing with an elbow injury.

This is certainly cause for concern. Everyone is worried about a potential Tommy John surgery for one of the Braves brightest prospects in a farm system that lacks a lot of talent.

Ritchie was selected 35th overall in last year’s draft, which the Braves acquired via trade from the Royals in exchange for Drew Waters and Andre Hoffman.

He was off to a great start in Low A Augusta, posting seven strikeouts over three perfects innings in his season debut. Ritchie struggled in the next outing, surrendering five earned runs across 3.1 innings but has totaled a ridiculous 25 strikeouts to only three walks across 13.1 innings thus far, good for a 16.9 K/9.

In his last start on May 6, Ritchie was cruising before calling the catcher and training staff to the mound en route to exiting the game. He’s only 19 years old, so a significant setback like this shouldn’t be catastrophic to his development.

Obviously, the biggest fear is Tommy John surgery, which could keep him out for most of next season as well as the rest of this year. He’s one of the top-ranked prospects in the Braves system, but he’s nowhere close to contributing in Atlanta.

It is worrisome for JR Ritchie, but he’s young enough to bounce back. Max Fried and Spencer Strider had Tommy John surgery earlier in their careers, turning into perennial NL Cy Young candidates.

Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

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