Max Fried was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday, but left a good impression with Braves officials who plan for the left-hander to be a big piece in their future starting rotation.
Fried, 23, was optioned after posting a 5.40 ERA in four relief appearances, allowing seven hits and four runs with six walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Three of his four runs allowed came in a 2 2/3-inning stint at hitter-friendly Coors Field in Colorado last week.
He features a low-90s fastball and two above-average (by major league standards) curveballs, and could compete for a rotation spot next spring.
Fried allowed two hits and three walks in three scoreless innings of two outings before Colorado, and gave up two hits and one run in one inning against the Reds on Sunday in his last outing before being sent back down.
“He needed to go back and get innings (in the minors),” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It was a good experience, but we just weren’t using him enough, I don’t think. We’re looking at him as a starter down the road, and I think he needs to go back and finish the year getting starts. This time will have been good for him, but he needs to start pitching again.”
The Braves had him in the bullpen so Fried, one of their elite starting-pitcher prospects, could get major league experience. His next pitch for Gwinnett will be his first there, as he was promoted directly from Double-A to the majors and hasn’t pitched in Triple-A.
He’s pitched only 93 1/3 total innings this season, including 19 starts in Double-A, where finger-blister problems landed him on the disabled list for a stretch this summer. The Braves want Fried to log more innings and will have him make a couple of minor league starts and perhaps pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
“I liked (Fried) a lot,” Snitker said. “Handles himself well, liked his stuff, like the whole thing. I think he’s got a really good future, he’s going to be a nice little pitcher here.”
Fried was the seventh overall selection of the 2012 draft by the Padres, who sent him to the Braves with Dustin Peterson and Jace Peterson in a December 2014 trade that sent Justin Upton to San Diego.
He had 100 strikeouts in a career-high 118 2/3 innings in 2013 in Single-A, before missing most of the 2013 season and all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.
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