Joe Torres (left) and Nick Adenhart in August 2004 after their “Tommy John” surgeries.
Buried in an Orange County Register article is this crummy news:
For the second time in the past four years, the Angels drafted a pitcher who needed Tommy John surgery.
When the Angels made Nick Adenhart their 14th-round pick in 2004, they knew the right-hander had damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and would need surgery. When they made another high school pitcher, Jon Bachanov, their first pick last summer, they didn’t realize the right-hander would need surgery.
General Manager Tony Reagins said the team’s scouts saw Bachanov pitch late before last summer’s draft and had no indication of a problem. But Bachanov threw in workouts for the team shortly after signing his first contract in July and complained of a sore elbow. He was sent to the team’s minor-league complex in Arizona to begin a rehabilitation program. When the pain persisted, Bachanov underwent an MRI that revealed ligament damage in the elbow. He had Tommy John surgery in December.
Recovery from the surgery can take 10 months or more. Reagins said there is a possibility Bachanov could be ready to pitch in the fall instructional league. Most likely, he will not throw his first pitch in the Angels’ organization until 2009.
Adenhart had his surgery before his 18th birthday in August 2004 and made his minor-league debut in 2005. He has since emerged as the Angels’ top pitching prospect. Bachanov turned 19 in January.
The success rate on "Tommy John" surgeries is much higher than a generation ago, but it’s still not perfect. For every Nick Adenhart there’s a Joe Torres, the Angels’ first-round pick in June 2000 (#10 overall). Joe missed part of 2003 and all of 2004 after the surgery, and was never the same. The last I checked, he was knocking around the White Sox system.
I interviewed Jon Bachanov last July in summer league. Click here to listen. You need Windows Media Player.