Max Fried is creating quite the buzz around Major League Baseball these days.
The Braves’ 25-year-old left-hander is 3-0 with a best-in-MLB 1.38 ERA after four starts this season and is drawing some lofty, albeit hasty, comparisons.
Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters after Fried’s latest performance Sunday night: “He might look young, but mid-90s fastball, slow breaking ball that kept spinning, kind of reminded me a little bit of, like, Snell with Tampa. I can see why they’re so excited about him.”
“Snell with Tampa” is Blake Snell, who last season won the American League Cy Young award.
Then, on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight podcast Monday, Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian threw out other comparisons for Fried.
“I’d say this after watching Max Fried last night pitching for the Braves: I think he already is one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball because of the combination of stuff, which reminds you of a very young Clayton Kershaw,” Olney said. “Fastball and with command in the mid- to upper-90s (and) his tremendous curveball – he pitches with his fastball at the top of the zone, the edges of the zone, and then he throws that curveball.”
“I’ve heard a similar comparison, that he’s a young Cole Hamels,” Kurkjian said. “Maybe with a sharper breaking ball, not as good a changeup, but kind of the same idea. …. If you’re compared to Clayton Kershaw or to Cole Hamels, you’re in pretty good company there, and that’s where Max Fried is right now.”
The Braves acquired Fried and three other prospects from San Diego on Dec. 19, 2014, in a trade for veteran outfielder Justin Upton. Despite having undergone “Tommy John” elbow surgery in August 2014, Fried was the key to the deal all along for the Braves. “I think without the fact he had the Tommy John, there’s no way we would have had a chance to get this type of talent for … a guy that has one year left on his deal,” John Hart, then the Braves’ president of baseball operations, said on the day of the deal.
The other players acquired in the trade are gone from the Atlanta organization: outfielder Mallex Smith (traded by the Braves to Seattle as part of a deal for Luiz Gohara in January 2017), infielder Jace Peterson (non-tendered by the Braves in December 2017) and outfielder Dustin Peterson (waived in September 2018). But more than four years after the Braves acquired Fried, his starts have become buzz-worthy.
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TODAY’S LEADOFF LINKS
> The NFL draft begins Thursday. Don’t miss D. Orlando Ledbetter’s continuing series on the positions of need for the Falcons in the draft.
> The Braves are on the road, but there will be baseball at SunTrust Park tonight: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech in a meeting of nationally ranked teams to decide the season series between them. Read Ken Sugiura’s preview here.
> There have been 91 coaching changes among GHSA teams since the end of last season. Read Todd Holcomb’s report on the latest moves.
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