Another potential top-10 pick needs Tommy John surgery

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We learned earlier this week that East Carolina University right-hander Jeff Hoffman will undergo Tommy John surgery and now another potential top-10 pick will join him.

According to Aaron Fitt of Baseball America, UNLV pitcher Erick Fedde also needs Tommy John surgery. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, the lanky right-hander posted a 1.76 ERA and 82/21 K/BB ratio over 77 innings this spring. Fitt writes that Fedde has attracted attention from MLB teams due to “a fastball that has reached 97, a quality slider and changeup, a tall, athletic frame and an advanced ability to pound the strike zone.”

Similar to the Hoffman situation, just because Fedde needs Tommy John surgery doesn’t mean that he will not be selected in the early rounds. Teams with multiple early picks (and a larger amount of draft pool money) might be more willing to take the gamble. They will be interesting names to watch in next month’s First-Year Player Draft.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.