Orioles shortstop Richie Martin and left-hander Ty Blach will both undergo surgery on Wednesday, manager Brandon Hyde announced to reporters Monday (Twitter links via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com). Martin will undergo wrist surgery after sustaining a fracture over the weekend, while Blach will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a ligament tear in his elbow. Martin is expected to be sidelined for two to three months, which all but eliminates him as an option for the team in 2020. Blach will likely be out until late next season at least, as recovery from Tommy John surgery typically takes between 12 and 14 months.
Martin, 25, was the top pick in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, and the Orioles carried the former Athletics first-rounder all season despite his struggles against MLB pitching. Martin saw action in 120 games but only logged 309 plate appearances, turning in an underwhelming .208/.260/.322 batting line against big league opponents. Martin had never played a game at the Triple-A level when Baltimore selected him, but he’d posted an encouraging .300/.368/.439 slash in a pitcher-friendly Double-A setting in 2018.
The O’s had surely hoped to get him some time in Triple-A now that they could send him there after getting through his Rule 5 season, but the prolonged shutdown and cancellation of the 2020 minor league season made that impossible. Now, Martin won’t even get reps in at the MLB level or in alternate camp during this summer’s shortened season.
As for Blach, the former Giants southpaw had been hoping to crack the roster as a rotation or long relief candidate, but he may not ever throw another pitch as an Oriole now. Blach struggled in 20 2/3 frames with the O’s in 2019 and was removed from the roster, but Baltimore liked him enough to bring him back on a minor league pact. That deal will run out at season’s end, and Blach will search for a new club either next summer or in the 2021-22 offseason, depending on his recovery process.
Blach, 29, was a solid piece for the Giants from 2016-18, racking up 299 1/3 innings with a 4.36 ERA over the course of 85 appearances (39 of them starts). Blach doesn’t throw particularly hard (90.1 mph average fastball) or miss many bats (career 4.9 K/9), but he’s found success in the past due to strong control (2.7 BB/9 prior to ’19) and his ability to keep the ball on the ground (50.1 percent).