San Bernardino, California —— After his most recent start on Wednesday night, Oakland Athletics right-handed pitching prospect Kyle Friedrichs is 2-4 with a 6.12 ERA over 20 games (5 starts) split between the Double-A Midland RockHounds and the High-A Stockton Ports with 40 strikeouts against 18 walks and 71 hits allowed in in 60.1 innings pitched. I observed the Oakland Athletics’ former seventh round (2015) pick in his July 5 start on the road against the Inland Empire 66ers; below is Baseball Census‘ full Kyle Friedrichs scouting report, including video.
Kyle Friedrichs Scouting Report — Video
Our video of Oakland Athletics right-handed pitching prospect Kyle Friedrichs comes from his Wednesday night outing against Inland Empire and rehabbing big league outfielder Mike Trout:
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Kyle Friedrichs Scouting Report — Notes
A sinker/slider type right-hander, Kyle Friedrichs succeeds by pitching to weak contact down in the zone, and fails when his stuff flattens and stays hittable up in the zone. He has an 86-89 mph (top 90 mph) fastball that is truly exceptional in its sink and arm-side run when down at the knees, but it’ll flatten out and stay on one plane when it’s belt-high without the velocity to make up for command errors. It’s a serious sinker when down, though, and the arm-side movement is late and sharp, specifically making life hell on right-handed batters (but likely also accounting for at least some of Friedrichs’ eleven hit batters so far this year on fastballs that get away arm-side).
The Oakland Athletics prospect pairs the two-seamer with a slider that sits 80-82 mph, and a changeup from 77-81 mph. The slider, like the two-seam fastball, is exceptional when down in the zone; it has very sharp, late break from 10-to-4 that’s tough to read and very tightly spun out of the hand. When the pitch is left higher than the knees, though, it too can flatten out and turn into a one-plane cutter that doesn’t do anything to keep hitters off balance. The changeup is a standard circle offering, and shows decent tumble with arm-side movement. It gives Friedrichs a second look against lefties as he’s unlikely to use the slider too much down and in on those hitters.
A high back elbow gives Friedrichs a pretty radical ‘inverted W’ look through his arm path—a controversial mechanical move that may or may not be a precursor to serious injury. He has already had Tommy John surgery (back in college), and he’s more or less worked a full load in both college and pro ball ever since recovering, though.
Not a strikeout pitcher, Kyle Friedrichs lacks a true wipeout pitch and struggles to miss bats. His command is above-average, so he can live at the knees and shoot ground balls when he’s on, but anything that misses up in the zone will get hit pretty hard because of a lack of velocity and life there. A product of Long Beach State, Friedrichs looks the part of a major college pitcher in his third year of professional baseball; he holds runners very well, is quick to the plate, and has an exceptional pickoff move with a couple different wrinkles. He fields his position well, too, and manages his game mentally and emotionally. Listed at 6’1″, 195 lbs., he’s likely a little bit thicker through his legs, though there may not be much more physical projection in the future considering he’s already 25 years old.
Kyle Friedrichs Scouting Report — Projection
Friedrichs struggled this year in a predominantly bullpen role in Double-A Midland before being demoted back to Stockton, a repeat level after he threw 100.2 innings over 18 starts (and walked just ten batters!) with the Ports in 2016. Going forward, it’ll be an uphill battle to prove himself in the upper minors unless he shows pinpoint command. His fastball isn’t hard enough to keep hitters honest, and his slider—while a good weak contact complement to his two-seamer when down in the zone—isn’t a sharp enough wipeout pitch to get too many hitters truly off balance in the upper minors. I’d love to see his sinker/slider stuff with a velocity bump; at 90-94 mph with the two-seamer, he could be a ground ball force with enough life in the tank to get away with a few pitches up in the zone (think Aaron Cook, the longtime Colorado Rockies pitcher, who was working 92-95 mph with his sinking fastball in the prime of his career). That hasn’t happened yet for Friedrichs, though, and may never come.
In the meantime, he aids himself by throwing a lot of strikes, and he has historically shown very good control. His command is above-average, but needs to be pinpoint to survive in the upper minors, let alone beyond that. Double-A batters hit him hard in the first half of 2017 to the tune of a .280 opponents’ batting average and seven home runs in just 51 innings pitched. As good as his two-seam fastball and slider combo may be when they’re well-commanded down in the zone, he’ll need something else to add when he gets another shot at the Texas League later this year or next. In a best-case scenario, the Oakland Athletics ought to be ticketing him for low-leverage relief in a long-man role with the ability to throw strikes and eat innings out of the bullpen.
All that said, let’s give Kyle Friedrichs due credit: the Oakland Athletics hurler did induce a weak groundout and a strikeout from the best baseball player in the world this week. Not bad.