Christian Friedrich | LHP – SP | Colorado Rockies | DOB: 7-8-87 | 6’4” | 218 lbs | B/T: R/L | 1st rd pk #25, 2008 from College | COL #2 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page
After thoroughly dominating Class High-A (California League) in 2009, Friedrich has fallen on hard times at Class Double-A (Texas League). He was the Top Prospect at High-A California last year and had the second highest strikeout rate in the minors (12.0 K/9). Throwing a low 90’s fastballs that top out at 95 mph, a 12-to-6 curveball that John Sickels calls “nasty,” a short and hard slider (or cutter if you’re reading Keith Law), and a newly acquired changeup – never threw one until he became a pro. The breaking balls have been called, “emerging plus pitches,” and, “advanced,” his changeup is called average, and he needs to locate his fastball better. Law describes his 36th ranked prospect’s throwing motion as long, and at times he drops his elbow. He goes on to say that Friedrich does a good job of staying on top of the ball. Had left elbow inflammation in 2009, but scouts weren’t worried about long term effects. This year, on July 18, he was hit in his pitching elbow by a batted ball. His upside, according to Keith Law, is a number three starter or a fringe number two; Sickels says he’s in the Mark Mulder/Barry Zito mold. This year his numbers are:
2010 Stats: 8.7 K/9 | 3.9 BB/9 | 73 1/3 IP | 5.28 ERA | 4.36 FIP | 1.60 WHIP | 1.1 Hr/9 | 10.4 H/9 | .368 BABIP | 42.5 GB% | 23.6 LD% | 30.5 FB% | 12. 7 Hr/FB%
Career stats: 11 K/9 | 3.4 BB/9 | 241 IP | 3.66 ERA | 3.46 FIP | 1.30 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 8.4 H/9 | .345 BABIP | 44.9 GB% | 17 LD% | 33.5 FB% | 8.8 Hr/FB%
Not what everyone was hoping. The Rockies were really cautious with Friedrich after he came off the elbow inflammation DL stint at the end of last year. Scouts and analysis says he was ready for Double-A, but the Rox didn’t push him there, waiting until the upcoming season for the promotion. Well, maybe he was ready, but his numbers show a pitcher who is struggling. He’s been working on changing his mechanics at the time of his injury. His BABIP has been high his entire career (.319 in 2009 at High-A when he was dominating). However, his strikeout rate has dropped dramatically at Double-A (nearly 3 fully strikeouts per nine innings), his walks have increased (by half a walk per nine innings) and his home run rate has nearly tripled (.4 Hr/9 to 1.1 Hr/9) while his flyball percentage dropped from 38 percent to 30.5 percent (increase in line drive rate hasn’t helped). There are some concerning numbers being produced this year, but how many of them are attributed to a small sample size and out-of-wack advance metrics and how many are attributed to his true talent and adjustments that haven’t been made? He’s a young lefty that may need more time at Double-A and not a late season call-up like all three of my sources were thinking he’d receive. His ETA would be next summer if that was the case, and a possible late season call-up this year, if the Rox are trying to instill some kind of confidence in their young pitcher. Still has a lot of upside, maybe this was his outlier year.
You’d think the Royals would have a good team with Mike Montgomery and Mike Moustakas getting praise in recent weeks. Hosmer’s stock had crashed, according to Baseball America, but has rebounded nicely this year. Last year he had trouble seeing the ball well and was diagnosed with astigmatism. To complicate his season more, he had a hairline fracture on right hand knuckle causing his finger to swell so much that he couldn’t grip the bat properly. In August (2009), he had laser eye surgery to fix the astigmatism since the contacts and glasses weren’t helping. Blessed with outstanding raw power, a balanced swing with quick wrists, and good feel for the strike zone. Keith Law calls him an, “elite hitting prospect.” He also has a plus arm – not quite as helpful at first base; his defense is adequate but he’s not as athletic as one would assume, since he has heavy feet and below average speed. Playing first base, he just needs to hit for our purposes here. Let’s see if that has happened this year:
2010 Stats: .351/.424/.575 | 393 AB | 54 XBH | 14 Hr | .224 ISO | 13/1 SB/CS | 46:50 K:BB | .368 BABIP | 50.3 GB% | 14.2 LD% | 35.5 FB%
Career Stats: .298/.383/.471 | 781 AB | 85 XBH | 20 Hr | .173 ISO | 16/3 SB/CS | 138:106 K:BB | .335 BABIP | 55.9 GB% | 13.8 LD% | 30.2 FB%
HQ, this is Bravo Company, the Royal units have overtaken our position and we have to retreat. Hosmer was recently promoted to Double-A to take over Mike Moustakas’ position in the lineup. A few quoted Double-A managers are saying they’re glad they didn’t have to face Hosmer and Moustakas in the same lineup (see: MiLB article). The Royals High-A affiliate (Wilmington) plays like Petco (Moustakas struggled here too). Hosmer struggled in 2009 for a brief stint, but this year he’s slashed .354/.429/.545 with seven homers in 325 ab-bats. To put that into perspective, he has hit seven homers in 72 at-bats at Double-A (Texas League – Northwest Arkansas). His BABIP has influenced his ratio stats – but half his season has been played in a spacious park too, which would lead one to belief his ratio stats would plummet. His ground ball rate fell by eight percent at Double-A (42.6%). His flyball rate is improving, which means a potential for more home runs. The steals – I don’t know what to think of them yet, seems like a fluke (13 of those are at High-A). One more thing of note, as a left handed batter, he has struggled against lefties for his career (.272/.320/.384 vs LHP; .305/.402/.508 vs RHP). However, this year there isn’t much of a splits difference (hitting better against lefties actually average-wise, and slugs .007 better against RHP).
Dayton Moore (KC’s GM) may be making some weird major league decisions (like not having Alex Gordon and Kila Ka’aihue playing in the majors until recently), he has done a great job of making a top minor league system. Hosmer has the potential to help out next spring, and hopefully they don’t pull a Kila-esque (use your Robert De Niro voice) move on Hosmer, we’ll be seeing him sooner rather than later. Think of a 20 to 25 homer potential with a .300 average – a Billy Buttler without the moobs. That’s his immediate major league upside. His peak years hopefully would produce more counting stats.