Posts Tagged ‘Max Fried’


JML Update, Weekend Edition (Games of 8/11-8/13, 2017)

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Scott Feldman returned to action, as it were, when he started for the Cincinnati Reds (49-69) on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers (61-59). Feldman pitched just four innings, giving up three runs on a walk and seven hits including a home run. On the plus side, he also struck out six. Feldman did not figure in the decision as Milwaukee won in 10 innings, 6-5.

Ryan Braun hit his 13th homer in that one, but it didn’t come off his landsman. All told, Braun was 5-for-12 with the home run, two doubles, two walks, four runs scored, and two RBI, inching closer to the coveted — if out-of-favor — .300 batting average. It was his first long-ball in more than a dozen games and puts him two shy of the 300-club.

Kevin Pillar was 1-for-7 with two walks, a run scored, a stolen base, and two RBI as the Toronto Blue Jays (56-61) took two of three from the visiting Pittsburgh Pirate.

Ian Kinsler was 1-for-9 in the first two games of the series between the Detroit Tigers (53-64) and the visiting Minnesota Twins. He did not play in yesterday’s finale — won by the Twins to take the set, 2-1 — as an aftereffect of being hit on the hand by a pitch the previous day.

Alex Bregman was 2-for-11 with two runs scored and an RBI as the Houston Astros continue to struggle, even though they still have the best record in the AL at 72-45. Prior to yesterday’s win against the host Arizona Diamondbacks, they had lost five in a row and seven of their last 10.

Max Fried threw a scoreless inning of relief for the Atlanta Braves (52-63) in Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the host St. Louis Cardinals, walking one and striking out one.

Brad Goldberg had another sloppy showing on Sunday as the Chicago White Sox (45-70) lost to the visiting KC Royals, 14-6. Goldberg pitched the final two innings, giving up two runs on one hit and three walks. It was his only appearance for the weekend.

Richard Bleier retired the only batter he faced for the Baltimore Orioles (58-60) in their 5-4 loss to the host Oakland As on Friday. Yesterday he endured a rare bad outing, giving up a two-run homer in 1.1 innings in another loss.

Danny Valencia did not get a single at-bat over the weekend for the Seattle Mariners (59-60), who were swept by the visiting LA Angels in a series that began Thursday. No injury, just supplanted by their new first-base acquisition in Yonder Alonso.

Joc Pederson was 0-for-7 for the LA Dodgers (83-34) who took two of three from the visiting San Diego Padres. He has just one hit in his last 32 at-bats. But the only game they lost was the one in which Pederson did not appear (Friday night).


JML Update, Games of 8/8/17

Posted on: August 9th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments


Stats courtesy JewishBaseballNews.com

Welcome to the club: Max Fried made his major league debut last night, tossing the final two innings in the Atlanta Braves’ 5-2 loss to the visiting Philadelphia Phillies. He walked two and gave up two hits while striking out one. Mazel tov, Max!

Alex Bregman had a two-out, game-tying, three-run triple (#4) for the Houston Astros (71-41) but the host Chicago White Sox (42-68) came back for an 8-5 win. Bregman, batting in the leadoff spot, was 1-for-3 with two walks. According to RotoBaller, he has 13 extra-base hits over his last 14 games. He wasn’t so great on the basepaths, however, getting picked off as well as caught stealing. Brad Goldberg did not appear for the Sox.

Ryan Braun, still batting in the second slot in the order, hit his first three-bagger of the year to go along with his 17th double and a single, but the Milwaukee Brewers (59-56) lost to the host Minnesota Twins, 11-4.

Danny Valencia hit a game-tying, pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the eighth inning as the Seattle Mariners (58-56) beat the host Oakland As, 8-7, in 10 innings. Ryan Lavarnway, whom the As had designated for assignment, cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Nashville.

Ian Kinsler was 1-for-4 with a run scored but the Detroit Tigers (51-61) lost to the host Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-3. Here’s an interesting take on how players market themselves from FanGraphs.com:

MLB players haven’t become ubiquitous in popular culture the way stars in other sports have. While the players themselves have remarkable talent, and fans already watching the game will know the names Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Miguel Cabrera, but a casual observer or non-fan on the street would be hard pressed to pick those players out of a lineup. Whether it’s the structural problems the sport presents — star players are involved in a fraction of a Major League game, unlike in other sports, where teams can make sure their best players are involved on nearly every play — or the failings of the teams and the league itself to market their stars, baseball players just aren’t the marketing behemoths that basketball and football players often are.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities out there for players interested in marketing themselves, rather than leaving the heavy lifting to the league or their organization. What former Cubs catcher David Ross and Detroit Tigers second-baseman Ian Kinsler have done recently is demonstrate what happens when a player takes control of their own story, and uses the power of social media, television, and a bounty of available resources to help sell themselves (and perhaps a few products as well).

Kinsler has done well for himself on the field over the last several years, but has the kind of skills that often fly under the radar. He’s a career .275/.343/.448 hitter, a four-time All-Star, and a 2016 Gold Glove winner, but he’s not usually been regarded as a franchise player, despite performing like one. He’s precisely the kind of player who is beloved on his own team but gets little notice beyond that, in spite of turning highlight-reel double plays, or textbook perfect ball-drops.

Ian Kinsler is not a typical magnet for marketers. Because his appeal doesn’t have the same reach as bigger-name guys on the team like Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander, Kinsler is not the first choice for most companies. In spite of that, he has managed to craft an image for himself that mirrors his on-field persona.

In 2016, Warstic, the baseball bat company Kinsler co-owns with Ben Jenkins and White Stripes frontman Jack White, were approved for use in the MLB. Soon the bats were being sported by Kinsler and teammate Nick Castellanos in Tigers games and their popularity spread to other teams. Leading into the 2017 season, Kinsler and White loaned their individual talents to the promotion of Warstic by putting out a series of videos featuring Kinsler preparing for games as if he were a warrior heading into battle, while White’s music accompanied in the background. Kinsler, Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris, and Ben Jenkins were also featured in a short film ahead of the season in which the men learned sniper rifle techniques from Navy SEALs as a means to find their focus in the pressure of a game.

Even in a commercial where Kinsler promoted Beats by Dre headphones, his persona was the same. He is always careful about how he is portrayed, manipulating the medium to create a brand for himself. In every one of these ads he is the serious, contemplative warrior, preparing himself to face off against his enemies. The image crafted is that of a man who takes his sport and himself seriously. It is an effective method to maintain the image of a fierce competitor on the field, and a man whose life beyond the baseball diamond is a mystery, but one can almost picture him climbing onto a horse after the game and riding off into the sunset now that the battle is over.

Back to business…

Joc Pederson was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts as the LA Dodgers (79-33) lost to the host Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-3.

Kevin Pillar was 0-for-4 as the Toronto Blue Jays (53-59) beat the visiting NY Yankees, 4-2.

Richard Bleier did not appear for the Baltimore Orioles (56-57) who lost to the host LA Angels, 3-2.

Conflicting info re: Scott Feldman‘s return. One source says the Cincinnati Reds’ starter should be back by Saturday while another says he’s not as far along in his progress as had been hoped.

Correction: Yesterday I said that early 20th-century Pittsburgh Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss was the only Jew besides Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax to have a plaque in Cooperstown. Add former commissioner Bud Selig to the list. Selig was among the latest batch of inductees to go into the Hall. HT to Bob Wechsler for the reminder.




JML Update, Weekend Edition (Games of 8/4-8/5, 2017)

Posted on: August 7th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Stats courtesy JewishBaseballNews.com

Kevin Pillar was 3-for-9 in two games (he missed Friday’s opener) with two runs scored as the Toronto Blue Jays (52-59) lost two of three to the host Houston Astros (71-40). Alex Bregman had one hit in each game, all for extra bases: his 13th home run on Friday, 28th double on Saturday, and third triple yesterday. The homer — a two-run shot to the opposite field — was part of a nine-run eruption by the ‘Stros in the fourth inning. Bregman’s record for the weekend included three walks, two runs scored, and four RBIs.

Danny Valencia also hit lucky #13. His two-run bomb opened the scoring in the first game of a doubleheader yesterday which was necessitated by a rainout on Saturday against between his Seattle Mariners (57-56) and the host KC Royals (he sat out the nightcap). He also had his third triple and a single in this one, so he was just one double shy of a cycle. On Friday, Valencia was 0-for-2 with two sac flies. Is he in danger of losing playing time now that the Mariners have acquired Yonder Alonso?

Ian Kinsler was 4-for-12 with a double and a run scored as the Detroit Tigers (51-59) lost two of the last three games in a four-game set to the host Baltimore Orioles (55-56). Three of those hits came in yesterday’s 12-3 loss. Richard Bleier had another scoreless outing in that one, going 2.1 innings and allowing two hits. In his last 10 appearances, Bleier has given up just two earned runs (three total) in 17 innings.

Ryan Braun split his time between left field and DH as the Milwaukee Brewers (59-54) took two of three from the host Tampa Bay Rays. Braun had two singles in 11 at-bats with two Ks and a walk. The two teams combined for just eight runs over the three meetings with the Brewers winning the first two by shutouts.

Joc Pederson was 0-for-6 as the LA Dodgers (79-32) swept the host NY Mets, a series that also included two shutouts. He walked twice in the Friday game and stole just his second base of the season. Pederson is hitless in his late eight games.

Brad Goldberg did not appear for the Chicago White Sox (41-68) who suffered a four-game sweep at the hands of the host Boston Red Sox .

Used to be, years ago, that we would read about these things in the “agate” section of the sports page, the tiny fonts that gave us information about who was traded or injured or released. In the on-line version we have the Oakland As designated Ryan Lavarnway for assignment late last week. Lavarnway — a pillar of Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic — had two cups of coffee for  the As: 11 at-bats over six games with two singles, a double, and two RBI. Here’s hoping he lands somewhere soon, especially since today is his 30th birthday!

Looks like Craig Breslow may have found a new home: The Cleveland Indians signed him to a minor league contract over the weekend. Mazel tov! And Scott Feldman will supposedly be returning soon to the Cincinnati Reds.

In another agate move, the Atlanta Braves called up pitcher Max Fried, one of those “highly touted” prospects who finds himself struggling in the pros. The 23-year-old lefty was just 2-11 with a 5.32 ERA in 19 starts for the team’s Mississippi affiliate in the Southern League (AA) where he walked 43 and struck out 85 in 86.2 innings. Fried has yet to appear in a major league game and until he does he’s not official.

I wonder if the Mets will bring up Cody Decker? The heart and soul of Team Israel is with their AAA affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s after spending some time with their AA club in Binghamton. Don’t know how I feel about this description from AmazinAveue.com, announcing a recent accomplishment in a game against the Oklahoma City Dodgers on Saturday: “The new pitcher, Jacob Rhame, left a big fat one for Cody Decker down and away, and the Jew bid adieu to that miscue, socking it over the left field wall for a game-tying three-run homer.” Between the two teams, Decker has 10 doubles and 10 homers in 68 games.

JML Update: On the horizon?

Posted on: January 30th, 2015 by Ron Kaplan

Kevin Law of ESPN came out with his list of the top 100 prospects. There are three MOTs that I know of, below, with Law’s comments:

# 28 Joc Pederson, 27, LA Dodgers, OF

AVG: .303     OBP: .435    OPS: 1.017    HR: 33    SB: 30

I thought Pederson was ready for a call-up late in the summer, particularly since he can handle center field and the Dodgers didn’t have a true center fielder on their major league roster, but his passivity at the plate was exploited by big league pitchers in September. He’s a very good athlete with an unusual power/speed combination that could make him a 4-5 WAR player in center as long as he can take better advantage when he gets ahead in the count, and adjust when he falls behind.

Playing a full season in one of the minors’ best hitters parks, Albuquerque, probably didn’t help his development, although he still punched out in 27 percent of his plate appearances there. He may always be a high-strikeout guy, but because he’s not cluelessly hacking up there, I think he can manage that down to a reasonable level and become a 25-homer guy who adds value with speed and defense. Top level: Majors (LA Dodgers) | 2014 rank: 41

[Kaplan’s komment: Pederson made his debut with the Dodgers last September. It was not the hottest of Major league debuts. With the Matt Kemp, some are projecting that Pederson might get prominent role this season.]

# 81 Rob Kaminsky, 20, St. Louis Cardinals, LHP
W-L: 8-2   ERA: 1.88  IP: 100.2  SO: 79  BB: 31

What Kaminsky lacks in size or projection, he more than provides in frustration for hitters, who say he’s tough to face because of his deception, something borne out in the high ground ball rates he posts and the infrequent line drives he surrenders. Kaminsky will sit 90-92 mph, occasionally bumping 94 but unlikely to ever pitch at that mark, with a plus curveball that he’s been able to use against hitters on both sides of the plate. His changeup has improved over the past year, in part because he has spent time with Marco Gonzales (who has the best changeup of any Cardinal farmhand), and he gave up almost no power last year, just 16 extra-base hits allowed to 407 batters faced, with more than half of the balls he allowed in play going on the ground.

With that third pitch well on its way, Kaminsky needs primarily to work on command and control, but his 2014 was very promising for a 19-year-old from a cold-weather state pitching in full-season ball. I still see a future No. 3 starter here, one who’ll have a long career because hitters will always have a hard time picking up the ball out of his hand. Top level: Class A (Peoria) | 2014 rank: 100


# 100 Max Fried, 21, Atlanta Braves, RHP

W-L: 0-1    ERA: 5.06   IP: 10.2  SO: 10  BB: 5

Fried was the seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft, going nine picks ahead of high school teammate Lucas Giolito after the latter hurt his elbow in March of his senior year. Giolito needed Tommy John surgery that summer, while Fried stayed healthy until the spring of 2014, when his elbow snapped and he had the same operation. It’ll cost him all of 2015 other than a possible return for instructional-league work if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks.

When healthy, Fried would sit in the low 90s with a plus curveball and an above-average to plus changeup; he’s an excellent athlete with a long stride toward the plate but a slightly long arm action. The Padres had become a bit frustrated with Fried’s approach to pitching, trying to throw the perfect pitch rather than trusting his stuff, and the change of scenery might help him, as Atlanta has had a lot of success in recent years developing young arms. If the surgery and rehab go well, he still has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter. Top level: Class A (Fort Wayne) | 2014 rank: 48

[Kaplan’s komment: Dropping more than 50 places? Bade. Still being considered in the Top 100? Good.]

JML, The Next Generation?

Posted on: January 30th, 2014 by Ron Kaplan

This is the time of year when you can expect to find the annual baseball magazines on the shelves of your local bookstore or newspaper shop. A standard feature are projections of what minor leaguers might turn into the next big thing. According to ESPN.com’s Keith Law, there are three (hopefully) future JMLs on his list of the Top 100 prospects, listed below, with Law’s appraisals:

  • # 41 — Joc Pederson, a 21-year-old centerfielder in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ system. (6’1″, 185 pounds, L/L. 2013 stats: AVG: .278 OBP: .381 OPS: .878 HR: 22 SB: 31).

lastnameI whiffed on Pederson last year after he looked terrible in the AFL, a stint when (in hindsight) it seems obvious he was exhausted and couldn’t show off any of his above-average tools. That became clear in the first half of this season, as Pederson showed power and speed as well as a great approach against right-handed pitchers, all while playing above-average or better defense in center.

I think he profiles better in right, as he’s got the arm for it and most teams will have a better option on defense in center, but he won’t hurt anyone out there if he ends up the starter. At the plate he has plus raw power already, trending up, with outstanding hip rotation after a moderately deep load back below his right shoulder, and a solid weight transfer as he strides into contact.

Pederson’s only real weakness is facing left-handed pitching, as lefties dominated him this year across the board (.206/.282/.382 line) and he struggled to make contact against lefty breaking stuff. His father threw him BP left-handed when he was growing up, making this issue a bit of a surprise, and he’s young enough to overcome it with experience; his front leg can get a little soft and roll over, which may (or may not) be connected. That’s probably the only thing standing between him and becoming an All-Star big league outfielder.
Top level: Double-A (Chattanooga) | 2013 rank: Unranked

(More on Pederson from Jewish Baseball News)

  • #48 — Max Fried, a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher in the San Diego Padres’ system (6’4″, 185. 2013 stats: 6 wins 7 losses, 3.49 ERA, 118.2 innings pitched, 100 strikeouts, 56 walks)

Fried had a good but not ideal first full year in pro ball, showing improved stuff and staying healthy but struggling more with command than anyone might have anticipated.

He worked in the low 90s all year but showed he can reach back for 96 when he needs it, and both his curveball and changeup will show plus, with the curveball a solid 65 or 70 on the 20-80 scale. Fried is extremely athletic with a loose if slightly long arm action, taking a good long stride toward the plate and turning over his pitching hand in plenty of time to bring it forward. He can repeat his delivery, but has a habit of nibbling as if he didn’t have power stuff, trying to be too fine when he should try to blow a hitter away with velocity or a curveball breaking down and away from a left-handed hitter.

He’s very competitive with great makeup, so no one doubts he’ll make this adjustment in time and cut his walk rate as he moves up; he’ll have to do so to continue to project as a future No. 2 starter.
Top level: Low Class A (Fort Wayne) | 2013 rank: 51

(More on Fried from Jewish Baseball News)

  • #100 — Rob Kaminsky, a 19-year-old lefty pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals’ system. (5’11”, 191. 2013 stats: 0-3, 3.68, 22 innings pitched, 28 strikeouts, 9 walks).

lastnameKaminsky was one of the most polished high school arms in last year’s draft, boasting already impressive stuff and good feel for pitching to make up for his lack of projection.

The New Jersey prep product sits at 90-92 mph with his fastball as a starter now, but his current money pitch is a grade-65 curveball with tight rotation and good depth; he has some feel for a changeup, but it’s well behind the other two pitches due largely to lack of use in high school. He has a strong lower half and makes good use of it with a long “step-over” stride, moderate hip rotation and an arm swing by which he pronates his forearm quickly after an early [Tim] Lincecum-like plunge. He’s athletic for his build and finishes well over his front side, which he has to do to avoid the plague of the undersized starting pitcher — a fly ball tendency from a fastball that doesn’t sink or tail.

He doesn’t offer any physical projection and will probably peak in the 90-94 mph range at best, but hitters say he’s extremely hard to hit because they don’t see the ball and can’t distinguish between the fastball and the curve. If that changeup comes along, he’s a potential No. 3 starter, and he should fare very well in the low minors as he’s learning.
Top level: Rookie (Gulf Coast) | 2013 rank: Ineligible

(More on Kaminsky from Jewish Baseball News)

Future JMLs to the Max?

Posted on: June 8th, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

Major League Baseball held its annual amateur draft earlier this week. Two Jewish athletes were chosen (there may be others, but I’ve received several emails about these in particular; thanks, everyone).

The San Diego Padres selected Max Fried as their first pick (#7 overall). Fried is a 6’4″LHP high schooler out of California. Here’s the “scouting report” from MLB.com’s draft section:

Projectable left-handers are always a hot commodity and Fried is one of the best in this Draft class.Fried has a good three-pitch mix and knows how to use it. His fastball sits comfortably in the 90-91 mph range, but he can reach back for 93-94 mph when he needs to. His fastball has good natural sink and he’ll also throw a cutter. He’s got a Major League average curve that he can throw for strikes at any point in the count and his changeup should be above average, with good deception and late sink.Occasionally, Fried doesn’t get on top of his curve, so it can get a bit slurvy, but that’s easily correctable. With very good command and well-above-average mound presence, it’s easy to see why some think Fried might be one of the early southpaws to come off the board in June.

And from the Los Angeles Times story:

Fried has been perfecting the pitch since he was 12, and the curveball that he has studied, examined and tried to mimic is the one thrown by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.

“In my opinion, nothing is going to break as much as Sandy Koufax’s curveball,” Fried said. “Out of his hand, it seemed just like a fastball and at the last second dropped off. Hitters had no idea what was coming.”

Koufax’s last game for the Dodgers was in 1966, almost 30 years before Fried, 16, was born. Which brings up the question: How does Fried know so much about Koufax?

“There’s lots of tapes of World Series games and a bunch of pictures,” he said. “I tried to do as much research and studying as I can.”

He even wrote a school report in elementary school on Koufax.

“I think I got an A,” Fried said.

Fried, who is Jewish, said he admires Koufax both for his pitching skills and his importance to the Jewish community.

Also selected:  Catcher Max Unger of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md., by the Washington Nationals, but in the 36th round.

How cool would if be if somewhere down the line Fried and Unger ended up as batterymates?



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