By Robbie Loeb
Max Fried ’12 began his senior year as a new Wolverine. He ended it as a new San Diego Padre.
The left-handed pitcher was drafted as the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft. His teammate, Lucas Giolito ’12, was selected 16th by the Washington Nationals, and will eventually join 2009 first overall pick Stephen Strasburg and 2010 first pick Bryce Harper in the nation’s capital.
Fried was the third pitcher off the board behind Louisiana State righty Kevin Gausman, who went fourth to the Baltimore Orioles, and San Francisco righty Kyle Zimmer, who the Kansas City Royals took at five. Three more pitchers went before the Nationals took Giolito.
“Being drafted by the organization is just such an honor,” Fried said.
The Padres currently own the worst record in the MLB at 18-37, while the Nationals stand first in the NL East at 30-22.
Giolito started out in the running for the top overall selection, and his value rose once he started hurling 100 mph fastballs. But right when scouts began locking him in as the top pick, he strained his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, cutting his season three months short. The minor strain did not require Tommy Johns surgery.
Where he went in the draft depended on which team was willing to gamble on his elbow. He has been making progress in his rehabilitation, throwing for scouts the past couple weeks in increasing increments from 30 to 120 feet, but will not be able to throw from the mound for several weeks.
Fried had the opposite trend as Giolito over the course of the season. In November, the 6-4 lefty was projected to go towards the bottom of the first round, but after impressive outings including a 14-strikeout win against Culver City in April and a complete game shutout against Ventura County in the first round of CIF playoffs, his stock skyrocketed to where he was projected above Giolito. The southpaw went 8-2 this season with a 2.02 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 66 innings.
Said ESPN’s MLB Draft expert Jason A. Churchill on Fried: “Fried, the first prep pitcher off the board, is an athletic southpaw with an above-average fastball that comes easy and is complemented by two promising offspeed pitches, including with a mid-70s curveball and a plus changeup. Fried has No. 1 upside with a great chance to land as a No. 2 starter, thanks to his projectable, 6-foot-4 frame, and his feel for pitching and above-average control and command could get him through the minors relatively quickly. The Padres, who have one of the very best farm systems in baseball, just got better and in the process added something they lacked — pitching, specifically of the left-handed variety.”
On Giolito, Churchill added: “Giolito was projected as a top five pick - and potential No. 1 overall – until his throwing elbow came up lame early in his season. He hit triple digits on the gun prior to being shut down and sits 93-97. His curveball shows two-plane break in the mid-80s. His changeup is a work-in-progress. Despite his size, the right-hander uses his length well in his delivery, which bodes well for his long-term health. The Nationals were linked to college arms all spring, but there were hints that they had their eye on upside, and that’s what they get here in Giolito, who has an ace-level ceiling and could cover 230 innings per season. Clearly, there are no concerns about the medicals, despite Giolito not throwing off a mound in several weeks. Great upside pick here.”
Two Wolverine alums are already in the majors – Detroit Tigers right fielder Brennan Boesch ’03 and New York Mets third baseman Josh Satin ’03, who were both drafted out of University of California, Berkeley. Boesch was selected in the third round of the 2006 draft and Satin in the sixth round in 2008.
Neither Fried nor Giolito attended the draft, which was held in Secaucus, N.J..
Click here for a photo gallery of Fried’s draft party.