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.