Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Atlanta Braves farm system used to churn out all-stars such as, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Brian McCann, Martin Prado, Jason Heyward, and Freddie Freeman. Fast forward to the years of 2012-2014 the Braves farm system became barren and dormant. Then came along John Hart as President of Baseball Operations and John Coppolella as General Manager. These two men have an intense commitment to restore not only the Braves back to national prominence, but the farm system as well. Presently, that they are not quite there in terms of the big club. The farm system on the other hand is ranked at the top in many scouting outlets and major media sources as well.
One of the key position groups the front office has made an undying commitment to is the pitching position. Though many get lost in the names of Blair, Newcomb, and Allard, one name is making a blip on the radar. That name is Max Fried, pronounced freed, not fried as in many of our favorite southern foods.
Fried was selected 7th overall in the 2012 MLB Draft out of Harvard-Westlake School (CA). He was committed to pitch for the UCLA Bruins but opted to signed a $3M deal with the San Diego Padres. The lanky lefty made his pro debut that year with the Arizona League Padres were accumulated a 0-1 record, 3.57 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 17 strikeouts, and only six walks (stats according to milb.com).
In 2013, Fried was promoted to the High Single-A team, the Fort Wyane TinCaps. While with the TinCaps, he went 6-7 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 100 strikeouts, and 56 walks.
2014 was a tough year for Fried, as he was injured for the better part of the 2014 season and even went through the dreaded Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. Not only did 2014 sidline Fried, he also saw a change of venue as he, Jace Peterson, and Mallex Smith, were traded to the Braves in exchange for slugger Justin Upton and minor league pitcher Aaron Northcraft.
Fried did not take part in any of the 2015 season as he was still recovering from his Tommy John surgery.
2016 has seen the return and resurgence of the young southpaw. Fried has started 16 games this year for the High Single-A the Rome Braves, all the while posting a 7-5 record, a 3.59 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 81 strikeouts, and 39 walks.
Fried has a very balanced arsenal of pitches, headlined by a four seam fastball that sits in the 92-94 MPH range, topping out at around 95-96 MPH when needed. He also showcases a two seamer that sits in the 88-90 MPH area. His most devastaing pitch is a curveball that comes at the 1-7 angle. That pitch usually sits in the 72-76 MPH zone. Though his curve is loopy, Fried can bury it in the strike zone. A 81-83 MPH change-up rounds out Fried’s aresnal. Out of all the pitches Fried could command better it would be that change-up.
Many scouts have noted that Fried’s command on the corners of the stike zone is uncanny. Scouts have also noted that he can control the top of the zone very well. The best thing Fried does is his delivery. Each time his arm speed and arm slot are the same as the previous pitch, which is a very valuable asset as a pitcher. Coming in at 6’4 and 185 pounds, Fried looks like a young Chris Sale as he realeses his pitch. A Chris Sale type of pitcher would be exactly the thing the front office is looking for, as they attempt to usher in this new era of Braves baseball.
What do you think of Fried and the state of the Braves farm system? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.