When the Colorado Rockies commence Spring Training this year, there will be a number of candidates for the back spots of the rotation. Additionally, there will be pressure on young pitching prospects to break through and make a difference, dare I say the difference, for the team this season.
Christian Friedrich used to command that type of pressure and attention. A first round pick in 2008, the Rockies waited and waited for him to break through. A hopeful glimpse in 2012 excepted, the breakthrough just didn’t happen and still hasn’t happened. Now Friedrich is coming off of a season lost to a back injury, and he is something of an afterthought, a long shot, a dark horse candidate to even make the big league roster.
For his part Friedrich is excited for this season, as he indicated in a recent Denver Post article. In that same article, however, beat writer Patrick Saunders casts Friedrich’s chances to make any sort of impact in 2014 in a gloomy light indeed:
But Friedrich will face long odds to make the starting rotation. His career threatened by lingering back problems, he’ll likely begin the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs in order to build up innings and arm strength. Realistically, Friedrich faces even longer odds to ever develop into the pitcher the Rockies hoped he would be when they selected him with the 25th pick in the first round of the 2008 draft.”
The Rockies insist that they have high hopes for Friedrich, but he will have to overwhelm them in Spring Training to bypass guys like Juan Nicasio, Franklin Morales, and even Jordan Lyles. That’s not even to mention the fact that many Rockies fans are counting the days until Eddie Butler and/or Jonathan Gray arrive to boot all of those marginal options from the rotation.
The Rockies will hope that Friedrich surprises them, and it certainly sounds like the guys in the locker room will cheer for him to come through. Here’s hoping that his clean bill of health means he is on a level playing field to compete for a spot in Spring Training.