Pitching closer to where he grew up than he ever has in his professional career, Max Fried looks right at home in the Arizona Fall League.
After a solid debut last week, Atlanta's No. 9 prospect was even better in his second start. Fried allowed just one hit and one walk over five shutout innings, facing the minimum and striking out four to pick up the win as Peoria beat Salt River, 6-2, on Monday.
Gameday box score
Having climbed from Double-A to the Major Leaues this year, Fried showcased impressive stuff in his first AFL start, striking out seven over three shutout innings on Oct. 10. In his second outing, the Santa Monica, California native retired the first 12 batters he faced while cruising through four innings.
"It was big to get my change-up and my curveball over the plate for strikes when I was behind in the count," Fried told MLB.com. "I felt like I was trying to nitpick a little bit on the sides, and decided that I just wanted to throw some off-speed pitches down the middle to get me back into counts and just work off that rhythm."
Salt River's Brian Mundell doubled to center field to lead off the fifth and Baltimore's No. 9 prospect Anthony Santander followed with a walk, but Fried worked out of the jam. The southpaw induced a double-play ball off the bat of Jake Gatewood that sent Mundell to third. There, the 14th-ranked Rockies prospect was picked off by No. 16 Braves prospect Alex Jackson to finish Fried's day.
"After the rough year that I had, I was able to focus in and really just feel like I got my confidence back," he told MLB.com. "I felt like I was able to compete up here, and I felt like I was throwing the ball really well. I wanted to come in here and just keep it going, just keep attacking guys, and make the defense work."
Fried was more efficient than in his first outing. Needing 53 pitches for three frames last week, he spread 68 over five innings against the Rafters.
"Honestly, I'm just trying to ride out what I was doing at the end of the year," he told MLB.com. "I'm trying to go after guys and trust my stuff, and fortunately for me, I'm getting things to go my way."
Toronto's Lourdes Gurriel led the way at the plate for Peoria. The second baseman doubled twice and drove in four runs on a 3-for-5 day. Second-ranked Boston prospect Michael Chavis went 2-for-5 with a double, a run scored and a walk. Eric Filia (Mariners) added a double and two RBIs.
The Rafters tallied just five hits. Ryan Mountcastle, the Orioles No. 3 prospect, belted a solo home run in the loss.
In other AFL action:
Saguaros 9, Scorpions 8
Cardinals No. 18 prospect Oscar Mercado knocked a game-tying two-run double in the ninth and Chris Paul (Twins) followed with a walk-off single to cap the game. Ninth-ranked St. Louis prospect Sandy Alcantara worked around a walk with a strikeout for three hitless innings in the start. Taylor Sparks (Reds) put the Scorpions on the board with a two-run homer in the fourth. Yankees No. 23 prospect Billy McKinney and Brantley Bell (Reds) plated two runs apiece for the visiting squad. Gameday box score
Desert Dogs 2, Solar Sox 0
No. 18 Philadelphia prospect Elniery Garcia (1-1) permitted one hit and one walk while punching out five over four innings en route to his first AFL victory. Top Indians prospect Francisco Mejia scored a run while posting his second straight two-hit game to improve to 6-for-16 (.375), and No. 5 Dodgers prospect Yusniel Diaz cracked his first homer of the autumn. David Bote (Cubs) went 2-for-2 with a double for the Solar Sox. He's 10-for-18 (.556) through five games. Gameday box score