Padres prospect Max Fried’s nightmare of a season has grown worse, and now he can’t even look forward to redemption in 2015.
The team announced that the 20 year old left-hander will undergo Tommy John surgery, which will sideline him for the rest of season, and probably all of the next one as well.
Fried, who San Diego took with the seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft, entered the season as the Padres the No. 56 prospect in the game, third best on the Padres, per Baseball America. In February, though, he reported soreness in his left forearm, which can often be a symptom of UCL trouble and a precursor to Tommy John surgery.
San Diego consequently shut down Fried for two weeks, which turned into months, as the LA native did not make his debut for Class-A Fort Wayne until July 16th. Once there, he lasted all of two starts and 5.2 innings before again complaining of soreness, this time in his elbow. That led to a visit to the team doctor in San Diego, and now, apparently, to a surgeon, a knife, and a year and a half of rehab for the top prospect.
This is yet another setback for an organization already on the ropes. Fried had shown plenty of promise in his year and a half of professional baseball before 2014.
His fastball is a plus pitch that touches 95 MPH on the gun and should reach higher as he adds muscle to his lean 6’4 185 pound frame. The curveball, though, is his bread a butter, a power pitch with late, two plane break, that ESPN.com’s Keith Law and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo both agree is at least 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He flashes a change-up, as well, which has a chance to be above average.
Pitching in the Class-A Midwest League last year, he posted a 3.49 ERA with a 7.6 SO/9 and 4.2 BB/9. There is room for improvement in his command, but those are impressive numbers for a 19 year old pitching in full season ball.
The good news is that Fried is still only 20 years old, and when he returns in 2016 at age 22, will still be younger than many of the players drafted that June. The number of pitchers undergoing tommy john surgery of late has skyrocketed, but so have recovery rates. Fried can just ask the Nationals’ Lucas Giolito, a former teammate of his at Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles. Giolito sprained his UCL in march of his senior year in 2012. He went from a potential first overall pick to mid-first round selection, taken nine picks later than Fried, and he underwent the famed procedure shortly after the Nationals drafted him, nine picks later than the Padres took fried.
Now, Giolito owns a 2.23 ERA in the Class-A South Atlantic League and is considered by Baseball America to be the 11th best prospect in all of baseball.