Padres Pick Local Prepster Fried





Max Fried looked like a guy clutching a winning lottery ticket.

Between grins, the 6-foot-4 teenager paused several times as he talked to the MLB Network.

He called it a "complete honor" to be drafted by the Padres with the No. 7 pick. When he takes full stock of Petco Park, the 18-year-old's smile may be plastered to his face for weeks.

Fried—pronounced Freed—is a lefthander pitcher who played high school ball in Studio City, Calif, a two-hour drive from downtown San Diego.
 
He didn't need much help from the ballpark at Harvard-Westlake High when throwing his best pitch, a vicious curveball, that would've stayed inside a Little League-sized ballpark.

For good measure, he threw fastballs clocked in the low 90s and a changeup that scouts rated as major league average, while also showing the best command among high school pitchers in the 2012 draft class, as found by Baseball America's best tools survey.

Fried, true to Los Angeles roots, said his favorite major league pitcher of all is Sandy Koufax. Of the current lot, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw tops his list.

No one says Fried's curveball compares with those of Koufax and Kershaw, but the lefty didn't hesitate in telling San Diego baseball reporters that the curveball is his best pitch. He said he patterned the tight spinner after the curveball thrown by his half-brother who pitched for Southern California.

Fried comes to pro ranks more heralded than several pitchers who went on to flourish in Petco Park. At one point in 2011, the Padres with the best career ERAs at Petco were two lefties—Clayton Richard and Wade Leblanc—who at the time had career road ERAs above 5.00. Richard was an eighth-round selection. LeBlanc was widely thought a back-of-the-rotation starter when San Diego chose him.

Fried hasn't pitched in Petco, but he threw in the ballpark's visiting bullpen twice, at a showcase event and again when the Padres worked him out before the draft.

He said the Southern California air near San Diego Bay made him feel especially good. While attending a few Padres game before the draft, he saw how big Petco can play.

"It's actually the stadium I feel the most comfortable in," he said. "Its very big and the ball doesn't travel far at night. The more night games I'd be able to throw in that stadium would probably be better—heavy air."

FATHER FIGURES

• Recommended by area scout Brent Mayne, Fried went 8-2, 2.02 with 105 strikeouts against 29 walks and 43 hits allowed in 66 innings pitched this year.

• The Padres hadn't taken a lefthanded high school pitcher with a top-10 pick since they chose Mark Phillips ninth overall in 2000. Phillips developed severe control problems and was dealt to the Yankees. Fried is just the third high school pitcher selected by the Padres with their first pick since 1987.