One of the things you will rarely see an organization do is call up a pitcher from Double-A straight to the big leagues. Well, that’s what the Atlanta Braves did yesterday. When they sent Jason Hursh down to Triple-A Gwinnett, they decided to call up Max Fried from Double-A Mississippi.
Fried was acquired by the Braves in December 2014 as part of the deal that sent Justin Upton to the San Diego Padres. He did not pitch the following season due to Tommy John surgery, but has continually skipped levels throughout his time with the Braves.
In 2016, Fried pitched the whole year at Low-A Rome and then went up to Double-A this year. The numbers aren’t great for Fried this season at Mississippi. In 19 starts, he went 2-11 with a 5.92 ERA and had 85 strikeouts to 43 walks in 86.2 innings of work.
Last month, when Wayne Cavadi did his Top 20 Braves midseason prospects, he had Fried ranked 12th in what is one of the best farm systems in baseball. Here is a little bit of what Wayne said about the left-hander:
“Fried has a — stop me if you heard this — nasty curveball and once had upper-90s heat. Some of the guys at Talking Chop have told me that his velocity is way down, and seeing him more than I this season, they feel that bite on the curve isn’t as sharp. Fried has no doubt struggled in 2017, but again, he has reportedly been dinged up on and off.
“It would be incredibly exciting to see what Fried has to offer in a full-season, unscathed by injury. If he can find his way and return to the ace-form he was down the playoff stretch last season, he’ll return to the top ten prospect he once was.”
Since the Braves are in rebuilding mode, they could see what Fried has in a long reliever role or maybe in the big league rotation once September comes around. Over his last three Double-A outings, he gave up one run in ten innings and had nine strikeouts to three walks. He gave up three hits and struck out five over four innings against Mobile on August 1.
While Fried is averaging around nine strikeouts per nine innings since joining the Braves organization, he has also walked over four batters per nine innings in each of the last two years. If he fixes his command, he has the pitch arsenal to be successful.
For Fried, this promotion to the big leagues comes after battling injury and getting back onto the field. He is one of many young Braves pitchers that will try to make a good impression on the front office as they look to compete in 2018.
It’s clear the Braves think he has the talent to succeed as they are having him skip Triple-A. Whether this promotion is short lived or not, it is something to keep an eye on.