Stay in the Game: MLB Draft Prospect Back on the Mound, Thanks to Skilled Surgeon and Arthrex Innovation
Since he was nine years old, Drew Beam has never doubted his passion for baseball or his commitment to pitching the perfect no-hitter in the major leagues.
“I have a competitive side, it's taken over my life and baseball gave me something I could always strive to be better at,” he said. I just fell in love with the game. It felt like I was home.”
That drive helped Drew excel as a pitcher through middle and high school in his hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When he signed on to play baseball at the University of Tennessee, it was a dream come true.
“I dearly love this game,” Drew said. “It brings me joy and happiness and it’s part of who I am.”
But then, a simple game of catch with a buddy led to an injury that threatened everything he had worked for his entire life.
“We were trying to throw as hard as we could and I felt a pop. It did not feel good and tingling went down my hand,” Drew said. “I took a few days off and tried again and felt another pop.”
That pop ended up being a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his elbow.
“When I got the call with the diagnosis, it broke me. I instantly went face down into the pillow and shed some tears,” Drew said. “I knew people end baseball careers with an injury like this.”
But then Drew met with Jeffrey R. Dugas, MD* (Birmingham, AL), at Andrews Sports Medicine, who helped him reclaim his hope for the future.
“Drew came to me with an acute injury, but with otherwise healthy tissue that was intact,” Dr. Dugas said. “I spoke to him and his family and they wanted me to make the call between a repair and a reconstruction. Reconstruction is the gold standard for an injury like this.”
Drew’s otherwise healthy tissue allowed Dr. Dugas to repair his UCL tear using the InternalBrace™ ligament augmentation system.
“In the right candidates this repair is very successful,” Dr. Dugas said. “For throwing or overhead athletes like baseball pitchers, gymnasts, volleyball and tennis players and even some football players, the InternalBrace system provides an augment to the ligament, so as it heals, the athlete has even more than they started with—the native ligament and the InternalBrace augmentation procedure on top of that.”¹
For Drew, the UCL repair meant sitting out for a season to heal and protect his future pitching career.
“Dr. Dugas said that it swept my feet out from under me, it knocked me down. But he picked me up quickly and said you will be back—and he was right,” Drew said.
Drew jumped into rehab and was determined to get back on the field and the pitching mound in Tennessee orange. And he did just that—a remarkable one year and three days following surgery.
“My part takes less than an hour, then I turn into a coach,” Dr. Dugas said. “Drew did everything right in rehab and his prognosis is excellent. He is a generational talent. I am so proud of him as an athlete and a person.”
Today, Drew is pitching better than ever and has full confidence in his throwing arm and his sights set on pitching in the College World Series again and being a high draft pick in the 2024 MLB draft.
“The InternalBrace system allowed me to get back on the field a year sooner, than if I had to have a full elbow reconstruction,” Drew said. “It allowed me to showcase my talents again and return to who I am. To get to do what I love for a living, that is the dream.”
1. Walters BL, Cain EL, Emblom BA, Frantz JT, Dugas JR. Ulnar collateral ligament repair with internal brace augmentation: a novel UCL repair technique in the young adolescent athlete. Orthop J Sports Med. 2016;4(3 suppl):2325967116S00071