A Minors Obsession

T.J. Friedl and his quick start to pro ball

In case you missed it, the Cincinnati Reds picked up Nevada outfielder T.J. Friedl as a non-drafted free agent last week. Normally, the signing of an American-born undrafted player wouldn’t be making the news, but the signing of Friedl is a bit different.

The Reds gave Friedl the largest signing bonus in the history of undrafted, American born players, signing him for $735,000. There’s a lot to the backstory, and you can read more about it here if you’d like. Essentially, though, a lot of scouts didn’t recognize he was draft eligible this year until after the draft had already happened and he was playing well on Team USA in international competition during the summer.

Cincinnati eventually signed him last week, outbidding several other teams. In his first game he would hit two home runs. He was also hit by a pitch and had a bunt single in the game. It would be tough to find a better pro debut than the one that the 20-year-old had with the Billings Mustangs.

While the center fielder hasn’t matched that initial game, it would be tough to do that, he hasn’t stopped. In the three games since then he’s gone out and racked up six hits in 13 at-bats. Five of those hits have been doubles and he’s also walked twice. Four games into his career and he’s hitting .563/.632/1.250, all good for an OPS of 1.882 with two walks and two strikeouts in 19 plate appearances.

Pretty much, T.J. Friedl is Steve Nebraska and the Reds have stumbled onto the greatest baseball player that ever lived by finding an unnoticed gem in the desert (if you don’t get the reference, you need to A) get out more, B) google it).

Other minor league notes of value

Jonathon Crawford has returned to the mound. Remember the Alfredo Simon trade from December of 2014 that included Eugenio Suarez? Well, some people would have told you that Suarez was the second piece in that deal and that Crawford was the main dish. It hasn’t worked out that way, but at the time there were plenty who believed that.

The right handed pitcher came to spring training in 2015 and was injured. He barely pitched that season, making just two starts in full season ball and a few other rehab starts, but was shut down. This year it was more of the same, not pitching until June 30th. He made six rehab starts for the Arizona League Reds and made his return to full season baseball on August 3rd with Daytona, tossing 5.0 shutout innings for the Tortugas.

The Dayton Dragons hardest thrower for most of the season has made the move to the bullpen. Tanner Rainey, the 2nd round pick from the 2015 draft, has struggled in the rotation this season. Most believed that he was eventually going to move to the bullpen before he reached the Majors, so this isn’t a surprising move in the least. Control has been a big issue for the right hander, he’s walked 62 batters in 91.0 innings (93 strikeouts). With the move to the bullpen the hope is that he can focus a little more in short stints, let his already plus-plus fastball velocity play up even more and hopefully keep the walks under control. If he’s able to go all-out in shorter bursts it wouldn’t surprise me to see him regularly hitting triple-digits.

Alfredo Rodriguez, the Cuban shortstop that the team signed to a $7M bonus this past July has returned to the Dominican Summer League Reds lineup. He hadn’t played in nearly two weeks after being hit by a pitch, but saw his first game action yesterday morning for the first time since being removed from the game on July 23rd.

20 thoughts on “T.J. Friedl and his quick start to pro ball

  1. Good thing we picked up Albert Brooks as a scout after the Yankees let him go. Otherwise Friedl may have been signed elsewhere.

  2. The scouting department stole one from the rest of MLB. The front office (Director of Player Personnel or Director of Minor Leagues) did a great job by saving enough pool money to jump in and snatch up Freidl. Kudos all around to whoever they were in each department.
    I think one media outlet has already put Freidl at #12 on their Reds prospects list. It is a little premature to rank him, but he is off to an other-worldly start.
    Senzel, Okey and now Freidl are forming a nice new nucleus to add to Winker for the future.

    • We didn’t save any pool money before this. We just had the largest pool and everyone was pretty much at the limit, so we had to the most to give without giving up a first round draft pick.

      It was MLB Pipeline that ranked Friedl #12. Jonathan Mayo ranks the Reds on that site, and I don’t put too much stock in his opinion (Aristides Aquino #21?, he just NOW dropped Nick Howard out of the top 30). I wish they got Jim Callis to cover the Reds instead.

      • Baseball America just talked about him in the mailbag and said expect him in the 20-30 range when the Handbook comes out. I’d agree with that, unless he goes out in Billings and reports come back quite different than what we heard a week ago about him.

        • Yes, they had to pay a 100% on the overage, which was about $710,000. So, really, they paid out $1.4M to sign him when things are accounted for. Friedl only sees $735,000 though.

  3. Doug, is it possible to trade the ‘L’ in ‘Friedl’ to Jesse Winker?

    And what do you know about the Friedl’s various collegiate coaches?

  4. and by “get out more” you mean “stay at home and look for Brendan Fraser movies on TBS.” haha. Thanks for this Doug, sounds like pretty hopeful news all around

  5. Doug, you rock, but that is such a bad movie.

    Thanks for the Friedl coverage here. A shrewd pickup for the Reds, even if he doesn’t end up panning out. These are the kind of kids they need to be going for.

    • I never said it was a good movie, but it’s one that most adults who like baseball have probably seen by now. And if you haven’t, it’s still worth the 90 minutes.

      • It has it’s moments that it would be worth 90 minutes on a rainy Saturday.

  6. I’m a lot more excited about Friedl @ $700K than Rodriguez @ $7MM. The Reds simply got lucky regarding Friedl. They happened to be in the right place at the right time with more $ available than anyone else. No one was going to sign Friedl at the expense of a 1st round selection in the 2017 draft, so the good guys made out like bandits. That was a nice cherry on top of the 2016 amature draft.

  7. If Friedl were to pan out and become and every day impact player, I wonder how it would change the overall Jocketty perception 3-4 years from now when Friedl is ready.

    • Form the Old Cossack’s perspective (FWIW), -0-.

      Now if Alfredo Rodrigues, Tyler Stephensen & either Alex Blandino or Phil Ervin become every day, impact players for the Reds at the major league level, then that might do the trick.

    • I would think a lot more of that rests on the laundry list of guys that are projecting to be the next core. Unless Freidl turns into another Votto

    • It always drives me up the freakin’ wall when people credit/discredit the GM for draft/amateur signings. Those things are done by the scouting director and his scouts. Walt may be the final judge, but it’s based on everything told to him by the scouts and scouting director.

      Been yelling about this one for years. Walt deserves no credit, and no blame, for any draft pick made on his watch.

      • agree….but what about Senzel .. #2 overall pick may be a different process, no?
        I was so concerned they would draft Puk or a high schooler or the low level D1 outfielder ,,,aka phil Ervin 2016…..who had the devastating injury for the mariners.

      • Doug, disagree somewhat. It is the GM that is responsible to hire the scouts. And the buck stops at his desk. Good GM’s are more aggressive about these matters than Walt is. Even Jim Bowden was very active in scouting the top prospects himself so he could be sure the right decision was being made. Walt may not be that active but I consider that to be one of his problems.
        When I was your age about 40 years ago, I kept up with all the minor league players the way you do. I can assure you that Walt is about as out of touch as a GM as I have ever seen. So it is his problem. He is generally just plain bad as a developer of the minor league teams.

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