August 7, 2017
The Situation: It seems like forever ago when Fried was traded to the Atlanta Braves as the prospect centerpiece in the Justin Upton deal with the San Diego Padres. It was 2015, Fried was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and in the midst of a long, rough journey back to pitching. He's now getting his first major league call, something that was far from a guarantee during those rehab days.
The Background: High school teammates with Lucas Giolito at Harvard-Westlake, Fried was popped nine picks earlier at seventh-overall in 2012. He's struggled with control throughout his time in the minors, a matter that wasn't helped when he missed the first three months of the 2014 season with left forearm soreness, making five starts before requiring Tommy John surgery in August. He was traded to Atlanta in the offseason while still recovering from surgery, as part of the package that sent Justin Upton to San Diego. Fried missed the entirety of the 2015 season before making 20 starts last season. He's missed bats whenever he's been on the mound, but he's continued to miss the zone as well.
Scouting Report: Fried was aggressively assigned to Double-A Mississippi for 2017 and has dealt with issues for much of the season. For him, it's usually command-related, and something like that gets exploited in the Southern League. But it's worth remembering he's still regaining feel for pitching and is working on it while trying to make the most difficult minor league jump.
When Fried is on, he's throwing low-90s to 95 with downhill plane and life, consistently locating arm side and sometimes hitting glove side, paired with a plus curveball that has plus depth and bite, and an above-average-potential changeup. Command woes can result in fat fastballs within the zone, which lack the same life and plane. He also occasionally loses his tight breaking ball and can cast his changeup when he doesn't have a feel for his release.
The delivery is solid, as is the body. That makes you think he has the potential to develop into a solid mid-rotation starter. The question is whether he fully gains the feel to maximize his pitches. He's already 23 years old, but the Braves need to remain patient and work with Fried on further developing his ability to pitch. This call-up should serve to simply give him a taste of the majors. Next year is a big year for him.
Immediate Big League Future: Fried has only worked as a starter thus far in 2017, but will be operating out of the bullpen in the near future. Perhaps he'll be more aggressive in attacking the zone in a situation where he can air it out. —David Lee
Fantasy Impact: Even though they are in rebuilding mode, the Braves have not been afraid to aggressively promote their minor leaguers to the big club. Earlier this week it was Ozzie Albies who got the call. Now it is Max Fried’s turn. Fried’s upper 90s fastball and excellent curveball are both legitimate pitches, but this has not translated to results on the field thus far. In 86 2/3 innings at Double-A, Fried has a 5.92 ERA and a 1.512 WHIP with 43 walks. Fried has struck out 85 batters this year, and in his last 10 innings Fried has not allowed an earned run. He has also kept the ball in the park of late, allowing only one home run in his last 29 1/3 innings.