Young Braves LHP Max Fried followed up a stellar 2016 campaign with a 2017 season where he dealt with a nasty blister issue that hurt his effectiveness and command. However, even if the results were not always there, the Braves saw enough development out of him during his time in the minors to give him a call-up in 2017 where he posted a 3.81 ERA and 4.81 FIP in 26 innings of work in the majors.
Coming into 2018, there were many that thought that Fried would break camp with the team either in the rotation or in the bullpen. However, it looks like Max will have to wait his turn.
#Braves optioned LHP Max Fried to Triple-A Gwinnett. He'll start the year there, but he could be back in the big league rotation plans sooner than later. Fried had gotten just 6.2 IP so far this spring. Time to head to the minor league side and get stretched out for the season.— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) March 16, 2018
There are a number of factors that could be in play with the Braves’ decision here. One is that Fried has not thrown much in big league camp (only 6 2⁄3 innings so far) and the Braves could simply want to stretch him out over a longer period of time which is easier to do in the minors.
Another factor is that there are a number of candidates for rotation spots that are without minor league options. The Braves have previously stated this offseason that players without options may get the first look (and longer looks in general) on the roster to evaluate them appropriately. While one could argue with this general line of thought, this is at least logically consistent with that line of thinking.
As a result, Max will join what looks to be a loaded Gwinnett rotation that will likely include top prospects Mike Soroka and Kolby Allard. For the first couple weeks of the season at the very least, Gwinnett will be a hot ticket as the near-unanimous top prospect in baseball, outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., will also be on Gwinnett’s roster.
In his 6 2⁄3 innings this spring, Fried has posted a 6.25 ERA with six strikeouts.