Cincinnati Reds right handed pitching prospect Zack Weiss recently underwent surgery on his pitching elbow. I’m told that it was not Tommy John surgery. It’s not expected to be a season ending (for 2017) surgery. It’s been a tough 12 months for the reliever who entered the 2016 season as the organizations top relief prospect.

Heading into the 2016 season the Cincinnati Reds were likely expecting right handed pitcher Zack Weiss to contribute at the big league level. He was invited to big league spring training and was coming off of a dominant campaign. His year began in Daytona, but was clearly ahead of the level. He posted a 0.00 ERA in 11.2 innings with one walk, two hits allowed and 22 strikeouts. That earned him a promotion to Double-A. With Pensacola he posted a 2.42 ERA in 52.0 innings with 14 walks and 68 strikeouts.

Coupled with outstanding stuff (sitting 92-95 MPH and touching 97 to go along with an above-average to plus slider and a solid curveball and change up), it seemed that Triple-A would just be a short pit stop for Zack Weiss in 2016 before joining the Cincinnati Reds bullpen. It turns out that they really could have used his help during the season.

It wasn’t meant to be, unfortunately. Zack Weiss went down in spring training with an elbow injury, though it wasn’t expected to be anything serious. When I spoke with him at the end of March he told me that he wasn’t going to make the start of the season, but expected to be back within a few weeks. That didn’t happen. Later in April I spoke with him again and he said that things were coming along with rehab. He hoped it wouldn’t be much longer before his return.

It was. Things just never did get quite right for Zack Weiss in 2016. He never took the mound in a game. He also hadn’t had surgery for anything during the season. When I spoke with a Reds official in late October while gathering information for my prospect rankings I was told that Weiss hadn’t had any surgery and they were hopeful that he’d be ready for spring training.

Fast forward to December 9th and the organization extended spring training invites to 19 non-roster players. That list didn’t include Zack Weiss. It as a bit strange, but coming off of a missed season, perhaps the extra few weeks between when big league camp starts and when minor league camp starts was the reason he didn’t get the invite. That would give him a small amount of extra rest time. It could also avoid, perhaps, the overthrowing in a situation where you’re trying to go full out to impress and make the club.

We now know why he wasn’t invited to camp. Hopefully his rehab and recovery process goes smoothly this time around. If he’s able to return to where he was in 2015 he should be a staple in the Reds bullpen rather quickly.

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23 Responses

  1. The Duke

    While I certainly didn’t know he would have yet another injury, the health concerns and missing a whole year for a RP who has never thrown above AA are why he isn’t in my top 30. Once he does get back, he’ll have a lot more competition for a bullpen role than he would have had in 2016.

    • Doug Gray

      Well, to be fair, this may not be “another injury”. It may just be that he still wasn’t recovering and they did some more digging and found something.

      He will certainly have more competition for a role moving forward than he would have, but as long as he returns to the guy that he was, he’s going to find himself in the big leagues.

  2. Simon Cowell

    Career over. Move along. Good thing the Reds didn’t sign him to an 80 million dollar contract.
    Maybe that should be the Reds new strategy: Force their pitchers to throw more innings and force the weak ones to flame out early. Better to blow out their arms when they are making 40K instead of 4 million.

      • Reaganspad

        Doug, aren’t there times when surgery is just removing loose bodies in the elbow?

        You were told that it was Not TJ

      • Doug Gray

        It could have been removing loose bodies. It could have been something else. I didn’t get the answer of exactly what it was, but was told it wasn’t TJ and it wasn’t expected to cost him the entire season.

      • Simon Cowell

        He never would have made it in the major leagues anyways. There was a reason why he was a reliever even in low A ball.
        Then again he’ll probably still have longer career than Robert Stephenson.

      • Doug Gray

        Simon, stick to music. You are far better at judging that than baseball talent.

    • jonathan

      Sometimes I wonder where some of these people come form….wow. Comment of the day.

      • Doug Gray

        Day? It’s the front runner for comment of the year.

  3. Champ Summers

    Surgery (not UCL related) on the elbow isn’t all that common except for the old loose bodies or bone spurs we hear about. Those recoveries can be tricky in terms of estimating recovery times.

    • Greenfield Red

      I would love to see the Reds get this kid. While they’ve done a lot to improve the system in the past year, they have left a lot on the table, and they will be pretty much limited to what they can draft (with a couple of trade possibilities) for the next two years (once this international period ends).

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah – I’ve got an article about this coming up either later today, or tomorrow morning. Depends on how the rest of the day plays out – I’ve got a few things in the works.

  4. MK

    I would be surprised if Zack is ready this year. Am sure they will take it slow. Might even put him on a starters schedule with a pitch count. For all the props Dr. Kremchek gets seems like he has a lot of re-does or clean-ups

    • Doug Gray

      Clean ups aren’t *usually* due to anything the surgeon originally did. It’s definitely not in this case since there was never a first procedure.

      • Champ Summers

        if this is anything like the bone chips Latos had in 2013 he was throwing in 60 days and was back in ST if I remember correctly.

  5. Bocephus

    Wish the best for Zack…seems like a very promising future.

  6. Arnold Ziffle

    Ruh-roh Raggy.
    Two seasons (’16 and ’17) affected by elbow problems. He now has elbow injury baggage to carry around with him from now on, which can be a burden to some players. Hope he can get past this and pitching well again in the future.

  7. DaveCT

    Simon Cowell, Arnold AZiffle AND Scooby Doo in one day, Doug. It’s like all the Disney characters in Schrek’s swamp! Oh, no! Schrek’s, too!

  8. Joe

    Simon you are dumb.

    Only giving one warning on the language. I get it, the comment by Simon was stupid. Very stupid. But I’m not having that kind of language on here.

  9. DHud

    Usually when they keep finding things with elbows it doesn’t bode well.

    I almost wish it would’ve just been TJ to begin with. Get ahead of it, do the surgery proactively and come back sooner and better for it. I thought the Reds were starting to figure it out with Meso, but they have a track record of just kicking injuries down the road and hoping things get better.

    I understand they specifically said “not TJ,” but I won’t be surprised if that’s the next step in a few months