Days after Texas Longhorns sophomore right-handed pitcher Tanner Witt was scratched from his start against the UCLA Bruins, the school announced on Thursday that he will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season.
The initial diagnosis of muscle soreness above his elbow worsened with further evaluation, revealing the need for surgical intervention.
A Houston Episcopal product, Witt was ranked as a top-100 prospect by Baseball America before the 2020 MLB Draft, but was not selected in the five-round draft that year and quickly announced his intentions to honor his signature with the Longhorns.
The 6’5, 215-pounder immediately became a key cog in the Texas bullpen as a freshman with a mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball, in addition to his competitive maturity on the mound. With 28 relief appearances, Witt led the Longhorns, posting a 5-0 record, with five saves, a 3.16 ERA, and 73 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched while holding opponents to a .194 batting average.
After moving into the weekend rotation as the Sunday starter, Witt began the season with two wins, a 1.64 ERA, and 14 strikeouts in 11.0 innings, living up to lofty high preseason expectations.
Texas used sophomore left-hander Lucas Gordon as Witt’s replacement on Sunday and he’s the favorite to step into the role for the rest of the season. In four appearances this year, Gordon has a 0.75 ERA with six strikeouts in 12.0 innings.
But despite the positive start from Gordon, losing Witt seriously damages the national title aspirations of the No. 1-ranked Longhorns, a blow deepened by the loss of starting right fielder Austin Todd to a separated shoulder he injured diving back to first base against Texas State on Tuesday.