Christian Louis Patrick Friedrich
- Bats Right, Throws Left
- Height 6' 3", Weight 210 lb.
- School Eastern Kentucky University
- High School Loyola Academy
- Debut May 9, 2012
Christian Friedrich was a 2008 first-round pick who made it to the majors in 2012.
Friedrich was 8-2 with a 1.93 ERA and 102 K in 58 innings as a high school junior and 8-3 with a 1.73 ERA as a senior. As a freshman in college, he went 10-2 while fanning 118 in 82 innings. He led the Ohio Valley Conference in ERA (1.98), was second in wins and threw a no-hitter. He was 15th in NCAA Division I in ERA. He made All-Conference and won the OVC Freshman of the Year award. In the New England Collegiate Baseball League, he had a 2-0, 1.41 record for the Vermont Mountaineers. Baseball America named him as a freshman All-American and the top NECBL prospect.
As a sophomore, Friedrich was 5-4 with a 2.09 ERA and a .155 opponent average. He led the conference in both ERA and strikeouts (101). He was All-OVC but lost Pitcher of the Year to Shawn Kelley. He was 21st in Division I in ERA. In the fall, he went 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA and 52 K in 37 IP for the Falmouth Commodores. He tied Wade Miley for the Cape Cod League lead in whiffs. Baseball America named him as the 4th-best prospect in the elite summer circuit, behind Aaron Crow, Yonder Alonso and Kyle Gibson.
His junior year, 2008, the southpaw was 5-1 with a 1.43 ERA, .144 opponent average and 108 strikeouts in 81 2/3 IP. He was named the OVC Pitcher of the Year, leading the Conference in ERA, strikeouts and opponent average. He was second in NCAA Division I in ERA (behind Matt Packer) and led in fewest hits per 9 innings (4.41, .05 ahead of Scott Bittle). He was 7th in strikeouts per 9 innings and tied for 17th in total strikeouts. He finished as the school's career leader with 327 strikeouts. Baseball America named him second-team All-American, going with a first-team starting corps of Aaron Crow, Brian Matusz, Stephen Strasburg and Rob Musgrove.
Minor League Career
He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 1st round of the 2008 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Scott Corman for a $1.35 million bonus and began his pro career that year. He appeared for the Tri-City Dust Devils (2-1, 3.25, 50 K, 8 BB in 36 IP) and the Asheville Tourists (0-1, 7.50). Baseball America rated him as the #3 prospect in both the Colorado minors and in the Northwest League (after Josh Vitters and Martin Perez). They also listed him as having the top curveball in the Colorado chain.
In 2009, Christian split time between Asheville (3-3, 2.18, 66 K in 45 1/3 IP) and the Modesto Nuts (3-2, 2.54, 93 K in 74 1/3 IP). He was among the affiliated minor league leaders in strikeouts (7th), strikeouts per 9 innings (2nd, between Matt Moore and Eric Surkamp), lowest opponent average (12th) and ERA (12th). Among Rockies farmhands, he led in strikeouts and tied Juan Nicasio for the best ERA. Baseball America named him the Rockies Minor League Player of the Year and ranked him as the second-best Rockies prospect behind Tyler Matzek (33rd in all of baseball) and second in the California League (behind Buster Posey, right ahead of Jason Castro).
In the 2010 Futures Game, Friedrich relieved Anthony Slama in the 9th with the US ahead 9-1. He retired Carlos Peguero on a fly to Mike Trout then was relieved by Tanner Scheppers. For the year, he fell to 3-6, 5.05 for the Tulsa Drillers before injury cut his season short. Baseball America still listed him as the 4th-best Rockies prospect, as having the best curveball in the Colorado minors (for the third year running) and as the 10th-best Texas League prospect (between fellow hurlers Blake Beavan and Cory Luebke).
Back with Tulsa in 2011, Christian continued to struggle at 6-10, 5.00. He tied for 6th in the Texas League in losses, tied Carlos Pimentel for second in wild pitches and was 8th with 88 runs allowed. Baseball America downgraded him to the Rockies' #14 prospect and he was left off his league's top prospect list for the first time. He opened 2012 with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and did well (2-1, 3.00, 4 BB in 30 IP) in his first five starts. He was called up to The Show with fellow prospect Alex White when Jeremy Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin went on the disabled list.
Friedrich made his major league debut for the Rockies of May 9, 2012, as the starting pitcher against the San Diego Padres. He gave up 2 runs over 7 innings while striking out 7 to lead Colorado to a 6-2 win, his first major league victory. He started 16 games as a rookie for the Rockies, going 5-8, 6.17 while pitching only 84 2/3 innings as team management was experimenting with making the team's starters take more frequent but shorter outings that year. He made his last start on July 28th then was placed on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back. The injury forced him to miss almost all of the 2013 season as well, as he was limited to 4 games with Colorado Springs.
Friedrich started 2014 back in AAA and went an unconvincing 1-8, 7.89 in his first 13 starts. Still, he was called up for a spot start with the Rockies on June 21st. Facing the Milwaukee Brewers, he was a victim of some sloppy defensive play, as the Brewers scored four runs thanks to three errors in the 2nd. Then, in the 3rd, he loaded the bases, and they all cleared thanks to a wild pitch after a misunderstanding with catcher Michael McKenry had him throw a fastball when a curveball had been called; the ball went to the backstop, McKenry picked it up and threw back to Christian who was covering home plate, but the throw was wild and Khris Davis scored, soon followed by Mark Reynolds. When Friedrich went to pick up the errant ball down the third base line, Jean Segura noticed third base was uncovered and Friedrich was not paying him attention, so he raced home too. Christian tried to beat him to the plate on foot, instead of throwing to McKenry, and Segura beat him. It was the first time that three runs had scored on a play begun by a wild pitch since 2001. In spite of al those early runs, Friedrich pitched 6 innings, but was charged with the 9-4 loss. He went 0-4, 5.92 in 16 games for the Rockies including 3 starts. In 2015, he was moved to the bullpen full-time and pitched 68 times, going 0-4, 5.25.
Friedrich was placed on waivers by the Rockies in February of 2016 and was claimed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. However, two weeks later, on February 19th, he was returned to the Rockies as the Angels claimed there was an undisclosed medical issue with him. The Rockies had to take him back, but decided to give him his unconditional release. However, on March 3rd, he was able to find another team, signing a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres with spring training already under way for over two weeks. It did not matter too much as Friedrich was recovering from shoulder surgery and was only looked at to help out in the longer term.