Former Colorado Rockies First Round draft pick Christian Friedrich was claimed off of waivers by the Los Angeles Angels following his designation for assignment on January 28th. Friedrich, the casualty from the Corey Dickerson/Jake McGee trade from the 40-man roster, has posted a career ERA of 5.81 over 167.1 innings, including 19 starts.
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Friedrich was selected 25th overall in the 2008 Amateur Draft by the Rockies out of Eastern Kentucky. He was a highly regarded prospect in the early stages of his career, topping out as the 33rd ranked prospect in baseball before the 2010 season by Baseball America. The lefty made his début in 2012 as a starter, making 16 starts during that forgettable stretch in Rockies history. You know, the four-man piggyback rotation year? Yep. Either way, his rate numbers were pretty average – 7.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.5 HR/9 are all solid for starters – but his ERA was… not good. 6.17 ERA in 84.2 innings. Not good at all.
Unfortunately, Friedrich suffered a stress fracture in his lower back that caused him to miss the end of 2012 and almost all of 2013. He struggled with back inflammation through the entire 2014 campaign, but spent all of 2015 on the big league roster. His season was the definition of a roller coaster; through May, Friedrich has a 3.18 ERA with 18 strikeouts and only five walks in 22.2 innings. By the end of August, his ERA had ballooned to 5.33 and his strikeouts dropped dramatically. Whether he was overworked or not, Friedrich faded during the second half of the season.
Sadly, the biggest takeaway is that Friedrich is another highly drafted pitcher that didn’t live up to his potential, a common theme for the Rockies. Why this is a repeat occurrence can be answered in a multitude of ways; the organization can’t develop pitching; pitching at altitude is really hard; he wasn’t good enough to warrant such a high selection; the list goes on. In reality, pitching at Coors Field is a difficult challenge for everyone. Some guys just can’t make the adjustment.
While it would have been nice to have Friedrich as insurance for the bullpen, we wish him luck as he battles for a bullpen spot with the Angels.
This will be the question asked about the Colorado Rockies once the season arrives — did they do enough to improve their roster this offseason? The most questionable move to some fans may be the trade of Corey Dickerson to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Jake McGee, but that just might mean Colorado is finally gaining sense of what they need to do to shape this roster moving forward.