Fried Shows He Can Still Spin It
Long-time Braves scout Paul Snyder has seen thousands of good curveballs and tens of thousands of bad ones. He’s long liked to say that the good ones, well, you’re either born with the ability to spin a good one or you’re not. Max Fried was born with the ability to spin a nasty curveball. He has that feel for spin that scouts look for. But before he was ever traded from the Padres to the Braves, Fried tore his elbow ligament. Which led to an understandable question, would Fried’s ability to spin a great breaking ball return post-surgery? "You never know. Tommy John surgery has a very high success rate, but you never know. It’s a surgery that you shouldn’t take it lightly,” Fried said. After Friday, the Braves don’t really need to worry about whether Fried’s spin has survived the surgery. In his second sim game of the season against fellow Braves minor leaguers, and his first two-inning outing, Fried showed the devastating yakker that made him one of the best young lefthanders in the minors before his elbow injury. Fried showed a little rust, as a couple of curves and a fastball or two badly missed the strike zone, but his feel for all three pitches (fastball, curveball and changeup) got better and better as he got comfortable. "Obviously it’s early in the spring. I made it a point of emphasis today to throw all three pitches in the zone and built off that,” Fried said. "It was my first time since surgery to sit down and go back out for a second inning so it was a big step for me.” Don’t think for a second that Fried was very rusty. He faced seven batters. He struck out five of them, recorded one ground out and allowed a home run to David Rohm. In an organization filled with pitching prospects, Fried’s return to form is a potentially excellent sign. Pre-injury, Fried ranked 46th on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect list coming into 2013 and 53rd coming into 2014. But he barely pitched in 2014 as he tried to rehab his elbow injury before eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery. When the Braves acquired Fried in the December 2014 <ahref="http: www.baseballamerica.com/statistics/players/cards/40229"="" target="_blank">Justin Upton trade, they told him that he wouldn’t pitch in a game against until 2016. "One thing I was happy the Braves did when they acquired me is they told me you’re not pitching next year. We’re going to try our best to make sure you never have to go through this again. It’s tedious but you have to grind through it,” Fried said. The rehab process from elbow surgery is never easy, but in Fried’s case he did have some support. Lucas Giolito, his teammate at Studio City, Calif.’s Harvard-Westlake, could commiserate after going through his own Tommy John rehab. And Tyler Skaggs, an offseason workout partner of Fried’s, underwent the same surgery with the same doctor just a week later than Fried, so they were going through the same steps at the same time. "We talked about rehab, the healing process. We used each other as a sounding board,” Fried said. It was only two innings in a spring training simulated game. But for a pitcher who has thrown only 10 innings in the past two seasons, it was a big step. "It’s one of those stepping stones. Each start here until I break is about what can I do to get better,” Fried said.