Following the New York Mets' front office shake-up this past offseason, my immediate attention focused on how the new Sandy Alderson-led regime would handle pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia.
At only 21 years old, Mejia is extremely talented pitcher with an excellent three pitch repertoire. He still depends too much on his 94-96 MPH four-seamer, but he counters it nicely with a solid changeup and is quickly developing a nice out pitch with his curveball.
He ran into mixed results during a brief stint out of the bullpen for the Mets in 2010, but spent most of the season striking out nearly a batter per inning as a starter in AA.
Much like Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers, Mejia has often been the subject of debate about whether he's best suited to start or pitch in relief. Because of his success starting in the Minors and the development of a third pitch, I think the most likely result for Mejia is a spot in the Mets starting rotation.
However, any decisions regarding his future role with the club will have to be put on hold indefinitely. This morning, Dr. James Andrews confirmed that a torn ligament in Mejia's right elbow will require Tommy John surgery.
The timetable for return from Tommy John is usually around one year. As of now, it has not been announced when the procedure will take place.
There are certainly several pitchers who have had trouble recovering from the operation, but there are also plenty, including Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson, who have recovered well and continued to pitch at a high level. Tommy John, from whom the operation takes it's name, went under the knife 12 years into his career and returned to find greater success after the procedure.
This news certainly weighs heavily on Mejia's future, but it may also have an immediate impact at the Major League level. It was also announced today that the Mets will lose their ace, Chris Young, for the remainder of the season.
The loss of Mejia takes away the option of using him to replace Young down the stretch. For now, it appears Dillon Gee will retain his spot in the rotation as Young's replacement.