We’re into the truly elite talent, any of whom Toronto would be very fortunate to grab, with Harvard-Westlake’s Max Fried, the top left-handed pitcher in the nation, coming in at No. 2. Like we did last year, we’ll also be hosting a live chat throughout the entire first round again starting at 7 p.m. ET, so make sure to pop by.
The players on our list are not who are considered to be the “best” players in the draft, but rather who could realistically be around when the Jays take the podium and who we would like to see the Blue Jays go after, with an emphasis on the latter.
Other articles in the series:
No. 1 – Lucas Giolito
No. 3 – Lance McCullers
No. 4 – Zach Eflin
No. 5 – Corey Seager
No. 6 – Courtney Hawkins
No. 7 – Chris Stratton
No. 8 – Richie Shaffer
No. 9 – Nick Travieso
No. 10 – Lucas Sims
No. 11 – Andrew Heaney
No. 12 – Joey Gallo
2012 MLB Draft Preview
No. 2: Max Fried
LHP | 18 years old / 6’3″ 170 lbs
Born: January 18, 1994 in Encino, California
High School: Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, CA)
College Commitment: UCLA
Baseball America Rank: 5 (2nd among pitchers)
ESPN/Keith Law Rank: 14 (7th among pitchers)
- Transferred to Harvard-Westlake after his previous high school, Montclair Prep, cut their athletic program entirely
- Draws comparisons to Barry Zito in his prime
- Hit .448 with a 1.156 OPS as an outfielder this season
A YouTube video of Fried pitching (with gun readings) in the CIF playoffs two weeks ago on May 17:
While attending Montclair Prep in 2010, left-hander Max Fried already showed top-of-the-rotation potential at Perfect Game’s Area Code Games when he threw an 85-87 mph fastball, a power 75 mph curveball and a 76-78 mph changeup.
But after Montclair Prep pulled the plug on their entire athletic program because of financial reasons, Fried was forced to find a new high school team to play for. He had made a new friend at a past national showcase in right-hander Lucas Giolito, who played for Harvard-Westlake, a school with an already solid baseball program, so he decided to make the switch there.
Fried’s move gave the Wolverines the one of the best one-two pitching punches in high school baseball history on paper, but when Giolito was sidelined with an injury, Fried was forced to carry the bulk of the load. He impressively did so with his potent bat, but also did so in dominant fashion on the mound.
As an above-average athlete with an incredibly projectable frame, the consensus is that Fried should add velocity to his fastball, which already sits between 88 and 94 mph. He consistently throws it around 89-91, though that doesn’t concern too many scouts because of Fried’s ability to reach back for more if he needs to and the pitch’s great arm-side movement.
While Fried does show a feel for an average, low-80s changeup that projects to be a plus offering, his best pitch is his curveball. A true hammer curve that’s considered one of the best in the country, Fried can either throw the plus pitch for a strike or get hitters to chase it out of the zone, thanks to its plus-plus spin and hard bite.
In addition to having a clean and fluid delivery, Fried is a competitor on the mound with and has a great makeup. He’s also an above-average athlete with a good pickoff move that already fields his position well. Given these skills and the fact that he already has a good feel for three pitches that project to be plus or better, Fried has true No. 1 potential.
Why the Blue Jays could be interested:
Having selected top-ranked prep left-handers Griffin Murphy and Daniel Norris in 2010 and 2011, respectively, surely the Blue Jays are eyeing Fried, the best prep southpaw in this year’s draft and perhaps the best left-hander, period. That kind of title means that almost every team would love to get their hands on him, and that he’s slated to go in the somewhere in the first 10 picks. It was even reported that scouts from clubs with late first round picks were so intrigued with Fried that they’d watch him pitch, even though their team would likely have no chance of selecting him.
With the Blue Jays selecting in the middle of the first round at No. 17, it’s highly unlikely that Fried falls to them. That being said, it’s not entirely out of the question.
It was common to see Fried start an outing with a low-90s fastball and high-70s curveball before dropping 5-7 mph on each pitch only a few innings later. Despite it likely being due to fatigue from carrying Harvard-Westlake’s team on his back for the majority of the season, the drop in velocity in his starts might have negatively affected his stock, as questions reportedly arose wondering if it was something physical.
With a large crop of college pitchers pegged to go high in the first round, not to mention some intriguing position players, it’s not unreasonable to say that Fried could slip down the board with a floor of No. 12 or 13 overall. A lot would have to go right, though, for him to drop even further than that to the Jays at No. 17, considering some scouts would take Fried No. 1 overall if they could.