This season there have been plenty of story lines involving up and coming players. One I want to focus on today is Ernesto Frieri. Until this season, I had never heard of him. A lowly middle to late inning reliever. Some thought he would go on to be a solid 8th inning guy, but no one expected what he has done for the Angels this season.
There are many things that have to happen to become a great baseball team. First you need middle of the order production, a solid rotation, and a solid late inning tandem. The Angels had lacked all three until mid May, but all as turned around of late. Pujols seems to be hitting the ball better, their starting rotation is looking good and thanks to Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri the late innings are looking to be secure.
Frieri was shipped over to the Angels by way of the team that signed him out of Columbia, the Padres. The Padres saw him as a solid reliever but not closing material. He has shown the Padres that they couldn’t be more wrong. Through 14 innings pitched this season, he has let up 1 hit (a single). He has also struck out 30 batters. In fact when I was looking to add a pitcher to my fantasy league team, I usually sort by strikeouts, Fireri showed up as a speckle between all the starters.
He is flat out a power pitcher. To make matters tougher on batters, his fastball has movement, lots of movement, Pedro Martinez fastball type movement. He currently shares the closer role with Scott Downs, but at some point he make just take it over and that time isn’t far from now. Among relievers he has a higher K/9 rating than anyone is baseball including Aroldis Chapman. It’s a ridiculous 18.8 K/9.
His time is coming as a closer and it’s time to hop on the bandwagon, we might very well be witnessing the beginnings of what could be an amazing career. His 2006 Bowman would be his rookie card and there are no certified autographs of him that I could find. Expect all that to change as the season progresses. His signed photos and baseballs can be had for about $15 and his rookie card is $1. Go ahead and indulge yourself, I just can’t see these cards going down in value after what he is doing to AL hitters.