Well here’s something you never like to hear:
#BlueJays top two picks from this year’s draft have now had surgery, with Max Pentecost undergoing a procedure on October 8 to end his year.
— Alexis Brudnicki (@baseballexis) October 20, 2014
That’s… not good.
I’d say something here like “at least he’s not a pitcher,” but it’s not exactly like catchers don’t need to throw, too. Let’s not go too totally nuts, though. I’m pretty sure the level of career peril involved here is not quite the same — especially since we don’t even know yet if it’s his throwing shoulder.
In fact, according to an AP story via Fox News, Brian McCann had arthroscopic surgery for a partial labrum tear of his throwing shoulder following the 2012 season — and was given the same recovery period, four months, as Alexis tells us is the case for Pentecost — and was good as new the following year.
McCann’s shoulder problem “hampered his hitting” that season, according to the piece, as he slumped to a career low wRC+ of just 87, with a slash line of .230/.300/.399. The following year he bounced back to the tune of a 121 wRC+ and a .256/.336/.461, and his ability to control the running game appeared to actually get better (though, of course, this is dependent on other factors than just stolen base/caught stealing numbers): he was behind the plate for 104 stolen bases in 2011 (29 CS, 1083.0 innings), 76 in 2012 (24 CS, 994.2 innings), and post-surgery, just 47 in 2013 (15 CS, 806.1 innings). A more advanced metric available at FanGraphs, rSB (i.e. stolen base runs saved above average) had him as essentially stable throughout the process.
That obviously doesn’t mean that we should have no worries for Pentecost. Every shoulder is different — and you only have to do a quick Google search about labrum tears to see how disparate various players’ recovery processes have been (McCann and Curt Schilling went great, Casey Janssen and Michael Pineda took a while but eventually returned to where they left off, others haven’t been so fortunate) — and all of Pentecost’s value is tied to his being able to stay behind the plate. Anything that might hamper him in that regard could completely throw a wrench into both his career, and the Jays’ long-term plans behind the plate. Again.
And shit, while it would have been more than a little bit fanciful to hope that he could have forced his way onto the roster by the time Dioner Navarro’s contract is up at the end of this season — sure, Vancouver is the highest level he’s played at so far (and only for 19 games), but it’s still something entirely worth hoping for given the dumpster fires that appear to occupy every other spot on the Jays’ catching depth chart — this certainly is a setback in that regard, as well.
So… it’s not good news. But it’s not full-on panic kind of news either. Only time will tell.
Of course, I’m sure that won’t stop the howling about why the club drafted a guy who may have already been hurt (y’know, apart from the other guy mentioned in Alexis’s original tweet, Jeff Hoffman, who they drafted knowing full well he was hurt). But let’s maybe all just hope the recovery goes smoothly, eh?
Image still awesomely via Crashburn Alley.