It’s every baseball player’s dream to officially get drafted by a Major League Baseball team in the amateur draft. For a pitcher, it’s a big deal when they finally get to toe the rubber for their new team after getting drafted even if it is just their first minor league game. That was the case for right-hander Jonas Wyatt after getting drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft out of Quartz Hill High School.
The Quartz Hill product took the mound in the Arizona Rookie League in 2015. He put up some very respectable numbers as he tossed a 1.62 ERA across 16.2 innings of work and threw some serious gas in his first season with the Indians. He was looking forward to continuing his progression in the system in 2016 when he felt some discomfort in his elbow at the end of spring training last year.
“After a few starts it started bothering me a little bit,” Wyatt recalled. “I kind of just pushed through it. I didn’t think it was too serious and kind of tried to work through it and it started bothering me a little bit more, so I told the trainers. They shut me down for a little bit and I rehabbed it for a while and came back in extended spring training.”
Despite his efforts to rehab the elbow naturally, things didn’t go according to plan. While pitching in a game, his elbow immediately started acting up again as he continued to throw his usual mix of pitches. He eventually felt something give in his arm after throwing a pitch, but he was able to finish his inning.
Afterwards, he went back to the training staff to report the pain in his elbow and was sent in for an MRI. The results came back and the worst-case scenario had come to fruition for Wyatt: he had suffered a torn UCL in his elbow. There was nothing left to do but go under the knife and have Tommy John surgery, which is often a scary proposition for any pitcher.
“I was pretty bummed at first,” the right-hander lamented. “It’s not a good thing and I wasn’t happy about it, but I was still young and if it had to happen then it happened at the right time so I could get it out of the way early and get stronger from here.”
It’s been nine months since getting the procedure and so far things are going pretty well for Wyatt. He’s already able to get back to working out and beginning some baseball activities. He was able to resume his usual workout regime six months out after the surgery. He’s also now throwing from 120 feet out on flat ground as he works to regain the strength in his pitching elbow. The next step is getting back into the bullpen and throwing a live bullpen session which is in about a week.
“I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. I’m just ready to get back out there,” he said with an eager smile on his face.
The recovery process hasn’t been a cakewalk for Wyatt. His arm is feeling pretty good, but it’s been the process of being patient and letting the recovery process take its natural course which has tested him.
“It was challenging at first,” Wyatt admitted. “It was something you kind of had to get used to and really think about and focus on because at first I wasn’t able to do much but just sit in the training room in my brace and watching other guys throw. It wasn’t very fun.”
Nonetheless, he stuck to the recovery regime and remained disciplined. He refrained from trying to rush the process and that patience is paying off for the right-hander. So far, knock on wood, there have been no setbacks in the recovery period and Wyatt is extremely pleased with the results so far. The worst so far that has happened has been him experiencing some tightness in his elbow at certain points, but the training staff has been on top of it and made sure that things remain on track. The Indians are notably one of the best organizations when it comes to rehabbing a pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery and Wyatt praises the Indians training staff after experiencing it firsthand.
“I think we’ve got the best trainers there are and they’ve been helping me a lot along with the other guys with Tommy John surgery,” he said.
Right now, Wyatt is focused on continuing his recovery from Tommy John. There is no guarantee he’ll be able to get back onto the mound and throw a live game in the 2017 season. It’s not out of the question though given his progression through the rehab process. Wyatt would certainly like nothing better than to get back on the mound near the end of the 2017 season, but he’s also realistic about the larger goal in mind. The goal isn’t to throw a few games at the end of the year, but it’s to ensure a full recovery from the operation and if it means missing the entire 2017 season as well, then so be it. All Jonas Wyatt is concerned about is coming back stronger than ever from Tommy John.