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Texas Righthander Tanner Witt To Have Tommy John Surgery



Texas on Thursday announced sophomore righthander Tanner Witt will have Tommy John surgery after suffering an injury to his right elbow. He will miss the rest of the season.

Witt this season was the No. 3 starter for top-ranked Texas. He made his first two starts on schedule, going 2-0, 1.64 with 14 strikeouts and three walks in 11 innings against Rice and Alabama.

Witt was scratched from his start Sunday against UCLA in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park and coach David Pierce told reporters in Houston that Witt’s elbow was “very tender” and that it was too early in the season to push a pitcher who wasn’t 100%. After further evaluation this week, however, it was determined that the injury required surgery.

Witt ranked No. 92 on the 2020 BA 500 as a a two-way player coming out of high school in Houston. He ultimately went undrafted in the pandemic-shortened five-round draft and instead headlined the Longhorns’ eighth-ranked recruiting class.

At Texas, Witt has focused on pitching and spent the 2021 season as a stopper. He went 5-0, 3.16 with five saves in 28 appearances. He struck out 73 batters and walked 25 in 57 innings, helping the Longhorns reach the College World Series.

Witt was regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2023 draft class and likely the top college pitcher. In addition to his pedigree and strong freshman season, he spent the summer pitching with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and in the Cape Cod League, impressing in both settings.

While his injury will impact the way scouts evaluate him, the timing of his injury means that he should be able to have close to, if not a full 2023 season. With a strong third season of college baseball, he could still be a high draft pick.

For Texas in 2022, losing Witt is a blow. He was perhaps the best No. 3 starter in the nation and his presence in the rotation along with lefthander Pete Hansen and righthander Tristan Stevens helped to make it the best in college baseball. Few teams, however, are better equipped than Texas to withstand such an injury.

Sophomore lefthander Lucas Gordon started Sunday against UCLA when Witt was scratched, and he would already have been in the rotation for nearly every team in the country. He is 0-0, 0.75 in 12 innings this season. He has six strikeouts and has limited opponents to six hits and two walks.

Should Texas need to look beyond Gordon, third-year freshman Andre Duplantier II (2-0, 4.50) would likely merit an opportunity. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery last season and has pitched well in midweek starts, though he did this week give up seven runs in 4.1 innings against Texas State. The Longhorns have no shortage of power arms on staff and though few others are stretched out to start at this point, several have the stuff and makeup to be starters.

As unfortunate as Witt’s injury is, Texas still has what it takes to win the national championship. The gap between it and the field, however, is diminished.

Kevin Graham Courtesymississippi

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