Ventura, California —— At the top of this post, watch one of our baseball scouting videos of Ventura College sophomore right-handed pitching prospect Justin Friedman, taken from his work during an April 14, 2017 start against non-conference California junior college baseball opponent Taft College at the Pirates’ home ballpark in Ventura.
In this start—we’ve got video of every pitch Friedman threw further down in this post—the righty went seven innings, allowing three runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts against the Cougars in a tough-luck loss during a pitcher’s duel. Coincidentally, Cougars lefty Nick O’Connor was the starter who dueled down the stretch with Friedman in this game; click here for the full report on how well O’Connor threw the ball opposite the Ventura College righty during that game on Friday.
For our March longform feature on Ventura College RHP Justin Friedman, please click here.
Justin Friedman scouting report notes
After spending his freshman year as a reliever at NCAA Division I program George Washington University, Justin Friedman made the trek out to the west coast for a shot at more innings and a different trajectory with a bounce-back year this spring at Ventura College. To say it’s worked well so far is, well, an understatement. Before Ventura’s Thursday afternoon game against Allan Hancock College, Friedman was 6-2 in ten starts for the Pirates, logging 63.2 innings pitched and allowing just a 2.26 ERA with 53 strikeouts against 46 hits and 25 walks—and just a single home run allowed. It’s been tough to square him up all year long, and he’s been remarkably consistent along the way: Friedman’s game log tells the story, but he’s never allowed more hits than innings pitched in any single game, and he’s throw at least six innings in eight of his ten starts. (In those other two starts, both at the start of the year, Friedman went five innings in each one and allowed just one earned run in each instance.)
Beyond the numbers and more focused on the field, Friedman is far more polished than you’d expect from most junior college starters who aren’t yet 21 years old. That will make him a huge asset to the University of San Diego, where he’s set to pitch for the next two years, if he’s not selected in the 2017 MLB Draft this June. The righty throws three pitches, all centered around a fastball that sits 86-90 mph and has two variations: one running two-seamer that has good late arm-side depth, and one more conventional four-seamer that Friedman can command with ease and even, at times, show a bit of late glove-side cut to the pitch. His changeup is far above-average for the junior college baseball level now, and the tumbling action and late, vertical drop with some arm-side run make it an intriguing pitch for the professional game, too. He can command it pretty well, he intuitively understands how to use it against lefties, and it could turn into an above-average off-speed pitch for him against professional hitters whether this summer, or after his time at USD.
Friedman’s curve, which sits in the 70-75 mph range, is also above-average for this level, with tight spin and generally good, hard action coming out of his hand. It can get horizontal at times, and become more of a slurve, but when Friedman can get out in front of it and throw it hard, it has good late bite and an 11-to-5 break that he uses predominantly against righties to both sides of the plate. Long term, as Friedman builds out arm strength and further refines his mechanics, I think there’s a shot there for his curve to be an above-average off-speed pitch, too.
As we’ve seen in an earlier feature last month, the righty is a legitimate workout warrior who take a far more mature, self-driven approach on game day preparation and in his in-between-start work than anyone I’ve seen at the JuCo level this spring. That’ll benefit him immensely at the next level, as he doesn’t need anyone to hold his hand through his days between starts, and he already understands how best to prepare his body for going every fifth day. He’s in phenomenal shape, and fields his position exceptionally well. He’s good size (6’2″, 200 lbs.) and yet he’s also wiry in his lower half and core, with room to grow into his body a bit more as he ages. There’s not a ton of physical projection to build out in his long-term future, but he’ll add some lower-half strength and could see a slight velocity bump from it, too, as he develops.
It’s tough to project out a junior college pitcher much beyond the MLB Draft, but Friedman is exactly the type of guy who ought to wind up getting a call somewhere between the tenth and twentieth round come June, and will then be forced to a decision about honoring his USD commitment or turning pro. Beyond that, he needs to keep pitching, and he’d be well served to land in a professional organization that’ll stick him in their advanced short-season affiliate and let him get 10-15 starts under his belt to begin his pro career. In a best case scenario, with his consistent if not overpowering stuff and knowing his personal commitment and proactive nature, it wouldn’t surprise me if big league clubs are targeting Friedman as a potential back-end rotation arm with an overall FV somewhere between 45 and 55 on the 20-80 scale.
Again, for our earlier feature on Ventura College RHP Justin Friedman, please click here.
To visit Justin Friedman’s player page, please click here.
Justin Friedman scouting report: 140 characters or less
A polished pitcher for his age with good command and exceptional work habits, Justin Friedman will get a long look in the 2017 MLB Draft.
Justin Friedman scouting report video
Here is the Justin Friedman video series we have for his MLB Draft profile, split up of every pitch he threw during that April 14 game against Taft College:
Justin Friedman scouting report GIFs
And also broken out a bit from that video, here are a few GIFs of Justin Friedman to get a better sense of some of the life on his pitches from that day: