Justin Daley Friend
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 210 lb.
- School Oklahoma State University, Chabot College
- High School East Union High School
- Born June 21, 1986 in Tracy, CA USA
Reliever Justin Friend played in the minor leagues from 2007 to 2014. He reached as high as Triple-A in four seasons, but never played in the major leagues.
He was 7-3 with 84 K in 70 IP as a high school senior, while batting .346. In junior college, he was 11-3 with a 2.43 ERA in two seasons. Transferring to Oklahoma State, he went 6-3 with 7 saves and a 2.11 ERA in 2007, with 81 K to 15 BB in 76 2/3 IP. He tied for fifth in the Big 12 Conference in saves.
He was originally drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 13th round of the 2007 amateur draft, one round after Gary Brown, and was signed by scout Blake Davis. He was 0-2 with a save and a 3.25 ERA for the 2007 Vancouver Canadians, striking out 31 but walking 19 in 27 2/3 IP. With the Kane County Cougars in 2008, he was 5-5 with 11 saves, a 3.84 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 32 walks in 63 1/3 IP. He was 10th in the Midwest League in saves and 4th in the A's chain in that department. He climbed the A's ladder in 2009, appearing for the Stockton Ports (1-4, 5 Sv, 2.87 in 43 G), Midland RockHounds (1-0, Sv, 7.71) and Sacramento River Cats (2 R in 1 1/3 IP). Control remained an issue as he walked 37 in 70 1/3 IP, though he did fan 78. His 53 games pitched tied Jon Hunton for 6th in the Oakland farm system. With the Phoenix Desert Dogs, he was 3-1 with a 3.97 ERA, tying for second in the Arizona Fall League in wins, one behind uber-prospect Stephen Strasburg. He was 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 36 games for the 2010 RockHounds, walking 38 in 56 innings, missing over a month with right elbow problems.
He pitched in the A's system through 2010, but was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the AAA portion of the year's Rule 5 Draft. Upon joining the Phillies system, he became a very good closer, posting a 2.75 ERA with 28 saves in 55 games in 2011 for the Clearwater Threshers (2-3, 19 Sv, 2.12 in 26 G) and Reading Phillies (1-4, 9 Sv, 3.38 in 29 G), cutting his walks to 16 in 59 IP. He had a 0.86 ERA for Clearwater entering May 24 when he allowed a 23rd-inning run to the Jupiter Hammerheads to lose a game after midnight. He tied Ryan Flannery for 5th in the Florida State League in saves and led Phillies farmhands in games pitched (2 over Jake Diekman) and saves (13 more than Justin De Fratus). He was 9th in the affiliated minors in saves. With the Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan League, he was 2-0 with 3 saves and a 3.44 ERA.
The bespectacled hurler was a 1.33 ERA with 25 saves for Reading (with whom he had a 0.23 ERA in 38 games; he had a .178 opponent average, 0.98 WHIP and 41 K in 39 2/3 IP; 2-0, 24 Sv) and Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs (2-1, Sv, 4.40 in 12 G) in 2012. He tied Preston Guilmet for the Eastern League save lead. He tied Hector Neris for second in the Phillies chain in games pitched and led in saves, 10 ahead of Phillippe Aumont. Guilmet beat him out for the EL All-Star relief spot. He was not as sharp his second winter with the Tiburones (3-1, Sv, 5.19).
Splitting 2013 between Reading (0-1, 5 R in 2 IP) and Lehigh Valley (5-45, Sv, 3.79 in 46 G), he was far less dominant than in 2011-2012. He walked 47 in 73 1/3 IP. He tied Tyler Knigge and Mike Nesseth for 5th in games pitched by a Phillies minor leaguer. In the winter, he was lit up for the Tiburones (1-1, 7 H, 5 BB, 9 R in 6 1/3 IP). He made three appearances between Reading and LeHigh Valley and posted a 0.00 ERA.
Overall, he was 22-27 with a 72 saves and a 3.32 ERA in 304 games over eight seasons. In 406 2/3 innings, he struck out 414 batters. Not a hard-throwing closer, he relied heavily on a sinker and slider.