It was a heck of a year for outfielder TJ Friedl. When it began he was entering his redshirt sophomore season at the University of Nevada. After hitting .401/.494/.563 he went undrafted despite being eligible, but most teams didn’t realize that he was draft eligible. He joined Team USA Baseball after the college season and had a nice showing which put more teams onto him. They began to see he was eligible to be signed as a free agent after going undrafted. By a little bit of luck, and some leg work done by the scouting/front office staff, the Reds had already begun to watch him in preparation for the 2017 draft before they were able to sign him because they had more money remaining from their draft budget (any free agent signings count towards the draft pool even if the player went undrafted). It wound up being the largest domestic free agent signing of an amateur in the history of baseball.
After signing the Cincinnati Reds sent TJ Friedl to Billings where he joined the Mustangs. The first game couldn’t have gone better if you wrote it in a fictional story. The outfielder homered twice and reached base all four times he stepped to the plate. The rest of his week didn’t quite stack up, but it was also about as good as it gets. He had five doubles in the other five games and went 8-20 (.400) with two walks – giving him an OPS of 1.514 in his first week as a professional. The second week really slowed things down though as he went 4-23 (.174) with a triple. It was a blip on the radar as he went back to hitting the cover off of the ball in the third week of August. In seven games he hit .379 with four doubles and three walks, posting a .972 OPS for the week. That carried forward over the final week-and-a-half of the season as he hit .333 (15-45) with two doubles, a triple and a home run to go along with six walks.
TJ Friedl only played five weeks after signing with the Reds but he made that time count. He hit .347 with 16 extra-base hits, seven stolen bases in nine attempts and 13 walks in 137 plate appearances for Billings.
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TJ Friedl Scouting Report
Hitting | TJ Friedl has a quick bat and a solid good understanding of the strikezone. He’s also got plenty of speed that will help him pick up some extra infield hits to give him a slight boost in average. He’s got a slightly above-average hit tool.
Power | Friedl has plenty of bat speed to work with. With that said he doesn’t generate tons of loft on the ball and is more of a line drive hitter. While 10 home runs isn’t out of the question for him, don’t expect much more than that.
Speed | This is an area where he shines. He has plus to plus-plus speed that works well on the bases and in the field.
Arm | His arm is solid-average and plays fine in center field.
Defense | He’s able to use his speed well in center where he shows good range. He profiles well as a center fielder, but if needed to the defense would work very well in both corners.
TJ Friedl had about as good of a professional debut as you could imagine. He nearly hit .350 and showed a very well rounded game. While his power is going to limit his upside somewhat, he’s average or better in the other four tools and should have enough pop in his bat to keep pitchers honest. At the plate he is a bit pull happy, and as a left handed hitter that could work against him if he’s unable to go the other way with the ball a little more frequently. He was an excellent bunter during his time, going 9-14 on bunt attempts (.643) in the Pioneer League. With strong defense, good gap power, a solid understanding of the strikezone and plenty of speed, he could move quickly through the system.