Friedrichs was a seventh-round pick by the A’s last season out of Long Beach State. A redshirt senior, he emerged as a draft prospect when he moved into the LBS rotation and out-dueled several better-known college starters, including the 2015 #4 overall pick Dillon Tate (RHP, Rangers, Class A Hickory, Sally League).
In 2016, Friedrichs began the year in the Class A Beloit Snappers’ rotation in the Midwest League, where he was part of a starter-tandem to start the year. Friedrichs breezed through his first five outings, and moved into a traditional starter’s role in his fifth start. After 50.1 IP, a 1.25 ERA and a 31:6 K:BB ratio at Beloit, Friedrichs was promoted to Stockton on May 28th. His first start for the Ports was a disaster (9 ER/1.2 IP), but I saw him in his second outing on June 5th, and he had a big bounce-back versus the Visalia Rawhide. In six innings, he struck out 11, didn’t walk a batter and recorded all eight outs on balls in play on the ground. He did allow a long solo home run to right, but the other two runs he gave up were scored, in large part, thanks to two wild pitches on balls in the dirt that a more advanced defensive catcher would have blocked.
Friedrichs isn’t a hard thrower. His four-seam fastball maxed out at 89 mph, but he spotted it well to both sides of the plate. His most effective pitch was his sinker, which had the Rawhide hitters swinging over it all game. The pitch, which sat 85-to-87 mph, had significant late fade and was effective both as a swing-and-miss pitch and as a pitch that was pounded into the ground. Friedrichs also used his two off-speed pitches well. He utilized his slider, sitting 77-to-79 mph, to freeze right-handed hitters with significant lateral movement. He often started the pitch from the right-handed hitter’s hip and got it to finish on the inner-half of the plate. His changeup was a good change-of-pace pitch, sitting 80-to-81 mph, and he was able to throw it for strikes in fastball counts.
Although Friedrichs doesn’t throw hard, he hides his release point behind his head, making it difficult for hitters to pick it up. His delivery also has a slight hesitation before he releases his pitches, which disrupts hitters’ timing. Friedrichs’ command is his best “tool”. If he misses up, his pitches flatten out and he is very hittable, but when he is locating down, he gets enough movement that the pitches are effective despite the lack of top-shelf velocity. He reminds me in both pitching style and delivery of former A’s right-hander Jason Windsor, who was a third-round pick in 2004 and reached the big leagues in 2006 before a shoulder injury derailed his career.