Following a series of social media posts, it appears SF Giants prospect Jake Wong will undergo an undisclosed surgery. The rehab will obviously force the right-handed pitcher to put his development on hold.
According to a series of posts on social media, SF Giants pitching prospect Jake Wong appears to be headed for surgery. While no details have been released on the specifics, a torn UCL remains one of the most common and debilitating injuries for any pitcher. The injury requires Tommy John surgery, which features a rehab that lasts at least a year and can reach 18-24 months.
Wong ranked as the Giants 22nd best prospect in Around the Foghorn’s updated rankings. Selected by the Giants in the third round of the 2018 MLB draft out of Grand Canyon University, Wong projects a potential back-of-the-rotation arm with a more likely future in the bullpen.
Last season, Wong began the season on the same developmental path as 2018 2nd-round pick Sean Hjelle, starting the season dominating at Augusta before earning a promotion to San Jose. When Hjelle was promoted to Double-A, though, Wong stayed put.
Wong maintained a solid (roughly 22%) strikeout rate in High-A and only surrendered walks in 0.6% more of his plate appearances. However, his extreme batted-ball luck had caught up with him. At Augusta, Wong’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was a low .226. In the California League, it skyrocketed to .335.
Primarily throwing a low-90s sinker, Wong should induce softer contact and groundballs, but it’s hard to believe that a BABIP far below .280 is sustainable. In fact, according to FanGraphs Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) metrics, Wong was only marginally less effective at High-A than at A-ball (4.09 FIP vs. 3.34 FIP). Neither metric is particularly impressive for a prospect of his pedigree.
His fastball has sat in the mid-90s, even touching 97 mph at Grand Canyon, and some scouts thought his future would be as a backend reliever. An 11-5 curveball was his primary, secondary last season, but the Giants were reportedly trying to convert it to a slider this spring. A move that should generate more swing-and-miss. He’s also thrown a changeup but has yet to find consistency with the pitch.
His trajectory is somewhat reminiscent of Giants reliever Shaun Anderson. Anderson was also a third-round pick, never dominated, but was a successful starter throughout the minors. Thus far, though, that success hasn’t translated to the highest level, and instead, Anderson has had to attempt to find a role in the San Francisco bullpen.
Wong does seem better suited than Anderson for a potential multi-inning role, but that could change quite a bit if Wong has to undergo Tommy John surgery. The timing of such an operation now would pretty much end his 2021 minor-league season before it got started. He’ll be 25 next September.
Hopefully, Jake Wong’s prognosis is something milder than a full UCL tear. Given the many months remaining before next Opening Day, if it is a relatively minor surgery, he may be able to pitch next season still. Regardless, everyone wishes him a safe, healthy, and full recovery.