Former pitchers sign with MLB teams

By Robbie Loeb

Max Fried ’12 heads back to Arizona for training next week after pitching in 10 professional games this summer, while Wolverine teammate Lucas Giolito ’12, who re-injured his elbow after throwing just two innings, begins 10-14 months of recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Fried and Giolito actualized their childhood aspirations of becoming professional baseball players June 4, before they even graduated from high school. Fried was drafted by the San Diego Padres as the seventh overall pick in the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft, while Giolito went 16th to the Washington Nationals.

Since the draft, both Fried and Giolito have earned their diplomas, signed deals worth $3 million and debuted in the minor leagues, but already their careers are on diverging paths. In the 10 games Fried has pitched for the Arizona League Padres in his young professional career, he started nine games, pitched 17.2 innings and no more than two innings per game. He holds a 0-1 record with a 3.57 ERA, has recorded 17 strikeouts and six walks and has allowed seven earned runs, 14 hits and one home run.

“I’m not really looking at the Arizona league as something that I’m going to be looking back on,” Fried said. “It was more about just getting my feet wet in the system and learning about everything going on.”

Next week, the Padres prospect will head back to Arizona where he will prepare for spring training. The southpaw likely won’t pitch much until January or February, he said.

More than five months removed from his last start, Giolito pitched two innings in his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Nationals on Aug. 14 before leaving the game with soreness in his throwing elbow. Giolito underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow Aug. 31 and should miss between 10 and 14 months. Dr. Lewis Yocum, the specialist who performed Tommy John surgery on current Nationals pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, performed the surgery.

“Obviously, the Nationals are an organization that generally deals very well with injured players,” Giolito said. “You can look at their roster now and see how well they’re doing and how well their team is doing, so obviously it’s the kind of up-and-coming organization that I’m very lucky to be a part of.”

“We’ll have a rehabilitation schedule in place the same as we’ve had with Zimmermann and [Strasburg] and [2010 second round pick] Sammy Solis,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “In a year he’ll be a young 19-year-old guy that’s come off Tommy John surgery and will begin his ascent up the minor league system.”

At the start of his senior season, the 6-foot-6 Giolito was in the running for the top overall selection, and his value rose once he started hurling 100 mph fastballs. But just as scouts began locking him in as the top pick, he strained his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow and was sidelined the rest of the season. Giolito saw his stock slip toward the end of the first round due to concerns about his elbow, until the Nationals nabbed him with the 16th pick.

After a month of negotiations, Giolito signed with the Nationals for a reported $2.925 million signing bonus minutes before the July 12 signing deadline.

“It’s just the way the negotiations played out,” Giolito said. “It wasn’t too crazy of a process. It ended up being a good situation for everyone.”

Fried agreed to terms with the Padres on a $3 million deal June 15.

“Being a professional, it’s your lifestyle. It’s your job to play the sport, and so you really have to put everything into it,” Giolito said.

“It’s my dream,” Fried said. “I see rehab guys coming down from higher levels and that sort of helps fuel my fire of getting to that eventual goal that I have of being in the major leagues.”