Jonathan Childress Looks To Stay Durable After Tommy John Surgery

Jonathan Childress

Texas A&M pitcher Jonathan Childress could have gotten upset about being pulled one out away from being eligible for a win last Sunday.

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But Childress was in too good of a place both mentally and physically to worry about that. In his first start of the season, Childress had just thrown a career-high 100 pitches for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019. His outing lasted only 4 2/3 scoreless innings, but the Aggies saw how beneficial having their 6-4, 205-pound sophomore healthy and durable will be in 2021.

Although Childress walked four batters and gave up three hits in a 15-0 win over Xavier, Childress struck out a career-high nine and propelled Texas A&M to its first win of the season after back-to-back losses to the Musketeers to open the season.

“It was huge. I haven’t thrown 100 pitches in like three years, since I was in high school,” Childress said. “Even when I was healthy my freshman year, we were still building up and I was getting cut off at around 70 pitches. It was really good for my mental state because I know I can still do it.”

Childress, ranked the No. 27 overall college draft prospect by Baseball America, showed life on his low-90s fastball and solid command of his curveball, slider and changeup during his outing Sunday.

This was a welcome sign coming off the long offseason as Childress tries to pick up where he left off in 2020.

“I still felt 100 percent,” Childress said after Sunday’s game. “I’ll be sore tomorrow but I felt really good the entire game.”

Childress credited starting catcher Mikey Hoehner for helping him get through the start and said the two have developed strong on-field chemistry as battery mates.

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Feb 26 - 28, 12:00 PM CST

“Outside of baseball we’re good friends and that carries over as well,” Childress said. “He’s a leader and knows how to get the most out of our team. He helps keep me going and not to slow down.”

Texas A&M went 15-3 last season when the season was halted just as it was going to enter the heart of SEC competition.

Childress should add depth to an Aggies rotation going forward as more challenges await. Childress is next expected to pitch in the Round Rock Classic Feb. 26-28 when Texas A&M faces Big 12 squads Baylor and Oklahoma as well as SEC rival Auburn.

Childress and juniors Bryce Miller and Dustin Saenz got the starts this past weekend and another Baseball America top 100 prospect, Chris Weber, was scheduled to start Tuesday against Abilene Christian.

Weber has been a solid performer for the Aggies both as a starter and reliever with a 3.02 ERA in a career 80.1 innings. Weber, a 6-4, 225-pound lefthander, has 98 career strikeouts and 27 walks.

Childress has yet to go through a full season since the surgery, which is why Sunday’s start was encouraging.

Watch the 2021 Round Rock Classic Live!

Feb 26 - 28, 12:00 PM CST

After a stellar high school career at Forney High in Texas, Childress experienced a dip in fastball velocity during his senior season. Although he began his freshman season at Texas A&M as planned and posted a 2.13 ERA in three starts, Childress was shut down when he injured his throwing arm.

After rehabbing the rest of that year and early 2020, Childress returned to action in 2020. He compiled a 1.84 ERA over 14 2/3 innings and made four starts, striking out 17 and walking only four before the COVID-19 pandemic cut his comeback short.

“Knowing that I could command a game up at 98-100 pitches felt good,” Childress said.

Childress’ performance should keep him at the forefront of the rotation especially if his velocity and command of his fastball remain consistent and if he can keep throwing his secondary offerings for strikes.

“I was disappointed he couldn’t get through the fifth (inning), but once he got to 100 pitches, I had to go get him,” Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. “It was the right call. But he pitched really good for his first time out. His curveball and slider were working really well. With the wind blowing out, it was good to keep that team in the park. He got us off to a good start and did a good job getting us to those middle innings.”

Andre has covered baseball at the high school, college and both minor-league and major-league levels for the past 15 years for multiple publications including the Miami Herald, the Athletic and Baseball America. You can follow him at @FernandezAndreC on Twitter.

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