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.
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.
The Braves plan is to use Fried out of the pen, which in redraft leagues makes him fantasy irrelevant in anything but NL-only. The Braves could trade Jim Johnson to a contender, but Fried is not where I would plunk down my FAAB for the next potential Braves closer. If you are in a keeper league where Fried is not already on a roster, I wouldn’t spend more than a smattering of your FAAB and I would not use a high waiver claim for him either. Fried could have a great Spring Training in 2018 and break camp with Atlanta as a starter, but it is more likely that he heads back to Triple-A to continue refining his stuff. —Mike Gianella
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