Archive for the 'Max Fried' Category

#170: A Report On Two Braves Prospects

November 19, 2017

Gil ‘N
Mechanicsville

 

 

With the conclusion of the 2017 edition of the Arizona Fall League last Saturday, the Braves “Answer to Everything”, Ronald Acuna capped off what has been a pretty eventful year for a 19 year old phenom.

Ronald Acuna

Beginning with a stint in the Australian Baseball League with the Melbourne Aces, the young Venezuelan hit .375/.446/.556 with an OPS of 1.001 in 20 games and was named to the Australian All Star team. After returning home to Venezuela for the league’s Christmas break, he encountered visa problems and was unable to return to Melbourne for the conclusion of that season.

Undeterred, he rejoined the Braves for spring training and was assigned to the Florida Fire Frogs in the Advanced A Florida State League. He played in 28 games for the Fire Frogs slashing .287/.336/.478 and an OPS of .814. He was promoted to AA Mississippi for 56 games and improved with .326/.374/.520 stat line and an OPS of .895. Upon his promotion to Triple A Gwinnett where he continued to improve on his average with a line of .344/.393/.548 and OPS of .940. in 54 games.

Along the way, he has garnered both All Star honors as well as MVP awards while playing with teammates older than himself. To be fair, he is not a one trick pony but a true five tool player playing all three outfield positions with a plus throwing arm. He has plus speed and has shown the ability to steal bases and hit for power. While lacking polish, which only comes for experience, it is anticipated he will start the season in the Atlanta outfield in 2018. The only question is which of the Braves current outfielders will be moved.

Max Fried

While garnering most of the ink, Acuna was not the only Braves prospect to shine in the AFL this fall. Soon to be 24 years old Max Fried also showed why the Braves are so giddy to have this young man in their fold.

Fried, who came to the Braves as part of the package acquired from the Padres for outfielder Justin Upton, Fried was a first round draft pick (over all #7) by the Padres in 2012. Max was sidelined for Tommy John surgery when the Braves acquired him in 2014 but their foresight may well have been spot on. Fried made his return from Tommy John surgery in 2016 with A class Rome. His record with the Rome Braves was 8/7 with an ERA of .393. In 21 games and 103 innings pitched he had 112 strikeouts and 47 walks and a whip of 1.301.

In 2017, he began his season with AA Mississippi appearing in 19 games and 86.2 innings. His stat line with Mississippi was fairly unimpressive with a record of 2-11 and an ERA of 5.92 with 85 Ks and 43 walks and a whip of 1.512.

Fried’s march toward Atlanta came with a promotion to AAA Gwinnett where he appeared in two games for a total of 6 innings. He registered 6 strikeouts with 2 walks and a whip of 0.500. This might be proof positive where wins and losses are not relative to a prospect’s potential.

Max Fried’s promotion to Atlanta on August 5th was somewhat unexpected but when a team is in full bore rebuild, opportunities are abound. Fried appeared in 9 games in the show, 4 as a starter and 5 in relief. He had a 1-1 won loss record and amassed 22 Ks and 12 BB with an ERA of 3.81 and a whip of 1.615. Perhaps more impressive was the poise and mound presence of the 23 year old rookie lefty. He did not give any indication of being over matched and showed glimpses of why he was considered the Padres #1 pitching prospect after he was drafted.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Braves assigned Fried to the Peoria Javalinas of Arizona Fall League following the end of the MLB season. Perhaps the Braves saw it as an opportunity to further evaluate the development of their prized lefty in a controlled environment where Braves minor league manager Luiz Salazar was slated to manage the Javalinas. He did not disappoint, appearing in 6 games and accumulating a total of 26 innings and posting a 3-1 record with an ERA of 1.73 with 32 strikeouts, 8 walks. His only snafu was in his next to last appearance against the Glendale Devil Dogs when he gave up 5 runs, 4 earned in 4 innings pitched. Fried has definitely made his case to be included in Atlanta’s plans for their starting staff in 2018.

All totaled Max Fried pitched 144.2 innings in 2017, a good number for a player only 2 years removed from Tommy John. Fried perhaps will be the top prized returned from the Padres accompanied by Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson and Mallex Smith in exchange for Justin Upton.

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