Alonzo Tredwell was pitching in a summer showcase event in 2019 when he heard a pop in his right pitching elbow. He finished pitching to the opposing batter, throwing “two nasty changeups” before exiting the game, he said.
At first, Tredwell thought he just needed to take time off after a busy season of pitching. He rested for three months and then started a throwing program. Tredwell was throwing from 120 feet when he heard another pop in his elbow on Christmas. He knew at that moment that he had to go back to the doctor and that surgery was likely.
Tredwell underwent Tommy John surgery on Jan. 10, ending his chance at pitching his junior season at Mater Dei High School in California and on the showcase circuit this summer.
Eight months into his recovery, Tredwell is in “the best shape I have ever been in,” he said.
“It’s just hard mentally when you get hurt. I’ve just tried to really bear down and focus on the bright side. When quarantine happened, I knew no baseball wasn’t going on, and I wasn’t missing anything. It’s an opportunity to get better for sure. I started reading some books, including the book, ‘The Arm.’ I am just staying positive through the whole thing and use this as an opportunity to get better.”
Tredwell is progressing and working through his throwing program. He is currently throwing from 70 feet on flat ground. His goal is to throw off the mound in March. He won’t rush his recovery process, though, and hopes he will pitch his senior season.
“We are taking it slower because of how young I am,” Tredwell said. “That would be about halfway through my season. I am not positive on the dates yet or if I am pitching this upcoming high school season.”
Tredwell is arguably the top prep pitcher in the state of California. He also is a top prep player in the 2021 MLB draft class, as professional scouts project the right-hander as a potential first-round pick.
He doesn’t let the draft attention affect him, though. Instead, Tredwell views it as motivation to hone his skills in preparation for the next step in his baseball career after his senior season in the spring. Tredwell also will have the option to play at UCLA starting next fall.
“I just use it as something to look forward to,” said Tredwell on the draft. “It’s good, and it is always nice to have the hype around you and people coming to watch you pitch. It makes me want to perform even more. I love seeing a bunch of guys coming out to watch me pitch. It fires me up and gives me some extra adrenaline. I just need to stay true to myself and control what I can control.”
Tredwell is a 6-foot-7, 225-pound right-hander who throws a four-seam fastball, circle changeup, slider, and 12-6 curveball from a low-effort, high three-quarters arm slot.
Before his injury, Tredwell’s fastball sat in the low-90s. It played up with hitters frequently taking late, defensive swings against the pitch. His slider features tight break, while his changeup is “one of my best pitches,” he said.
“That was the first off-speed pitch I started throwing,” said Tredwell on his changeup. “I believe I’m so good with that pitch because I was taught to throw it in catch play. Every single time I play catch, I play catch with my changeup and my fastball. Throwing it in catch play is what made me develop the pitch the most.”
As he recovers from his injury, Tredwell has spent time refining his mechanics. He believes some changes in his delivery will allow him to have more consistency and hopefully enable him to generate more fastball velocity.
“I think that’s a big thing I can do is add more velocity,” Tredwell said. “That is what I am working on right now is a shorter arm path. In my arm path, I used to get really extended with my front arm. I would almost straighten it. Then my back arm, it tended to get pretty long in the back. I have completely changed my throwing slot, so now my front elbow is bent, so I get a lot more pull down in my throw, and it’s a shorter arm path.”
Besides likely having a chance to start a pro career out of high school, Tredwell also is a UCLA commit. He verbally committed to UCLA on Sept. 18, 2017, due to his relationship with the coaching staff, the proximity to home, and its proven success as a top collegiate program that consistently prepares its players for pro ball.
Tredwell will be a two-way player at UCLA, which factored into his decision. Although his future likely is on the mound, Tredwell also will play first base at UCLA. He is a left-handed hitter who has an open stance.
“I committed to UCLA when I started freshman year, so I have had that connect with the coaches for the last three, four years,” Tredwell said. “To have UCLA to fall back on is the best thing that could happen. Coach (John) Savage is the best pitching coach I know.
“I think to have that in my back pocket is the best. The coaching staff is amazing, and they could develop me so much as a player when I get there. That’s the best choice I’ve ever made was committing there. Our class at UCLA also is legit. I’m fired up to go to UCLA, hopefully.”
Read more stories on top 2021 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.