Image credit: Mississippi State righthander JT Ginn (Trevor Birchett, Mississippi State Athletics)
Mississippi State announced Thursday that righthander JT Ginn had surgery on his elbow and will miss the entirety of the 2020 season.
After throwing just three innings in his opening start three weeks ago against Wright State, Ginn missed the ensuing two weekends with what was described as soreness. With the announcement of the elbow surgery, Ginn’s prospect status has become more clouded, though the No. 12 draft prospect shouldn’t slide too far down draft boards thanks to his high-level ability.
A first-round pick by the Dodgers in the 2018 draft, Ginn possesses two pitches that could project as 70-grade offerings in a fastball that gets into the upper 90s at its best with impressive movement, and a sharp breaking ball.
While the news is concerning, there have been several college pitchers in recent years who have had the surgery during their draft-eligible seasons and still been selected in the first round. Since 1999, notable examples include Jeff Hoffman (Blue Jays, No. 9 overall) and Erick Fedde (Nationals, No. 18 overall) in 2014 as well as Clarke Schmidt (Yankees, No. 16 overall) in 2017.
Duke righthander Michael Matuella is an example of a pitcher who was at one point considered a No. 1 overall pick candidate before sliding into the third round of the 2015 draft after undergoing Tommy John surgery. However, Matuella’s case isn’t quite as apt a comparison as he had a number of other medical question marks beyond TJ.
As for Ginn, he still has plenty of flexibility moving forward. He could still wind up being selected this June—anywhere from the back of the first round to the early second round makes sense at this point—or choose to return to school where he will be a redshirt sophomore in 2021 and still retain three years of eligibility.
“Ginn had a dominant freshman year and was probably slated to go in the top 10-12 (picks) if he built on his freshman season this year,” said one American League scout. “Coming out of high school, there were questions about his ability to start, but he did so at a high level as a freshman while showing a plus fastball, slider and control.
“His control in particular was much better than expected. He was noticeably not the same in his first outing of the spring. His stuff and control were both markedly below his normal standards. His ability to maintain his body during his rehab will be a key.”
Ginn impressed in his freshman season and proved himself in a starting role in the SEC, posting a 3.13 ERA over 17 starts and 86.1 innings, with 105 strikeouts (10.9 per nine) and 18 walks (2.00 per nine).
Mississippi State also announced that first baseman/outfielder Tanner Allen had surgery for a broken bone in his hand and is out indefinitely. Allen ranked No. 105 on the BA Top 200 draft list.
Freshman righthander Will Bednar will look to take Ginn’s place in the rotation. Bednar was the top-ranked recruit in Mississippi State’s No. 6 ranked 2019 recruiting class. He’s thrown 10 innings of relief this spring and posted a 1.80 ERA, with 15 strikeouts, four walks and a .184 opposing batting average.