Many eyes in the scouting world were turned to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the host Tin Caps were set to take on the visiting Lansing Lugnuts in Midwestern League (Low A) action yesterday. Prized pitching prospect Max Fried, the #2 prospect in the San Diego system, was set to go up against Lugnuts' righthander Roberto Osuna, the 4th-ranked prospect in the Jays' organization.
Showdowns between highly touted pitching prospects at this level seldom go beyond the 5th inning, because of pitch counts. And while both hurlers struggled at times before they reached their limits, both showed flashes of why they are considered to be front end of the rotation major league starters one day.
Fried, who was picked 7th overall in the 2012 draft by the Padres out of Harvard-Westlake HS in Los Angeles (where he emerged from the shadow of more highly regarded teammate Lucas Giolito, who was sidelined by UCL problems last spring), started 2013 as Baseball America's 46th ranked prospect. The offensively struggling Lugnuts (.227 team BA) touched Fried for a pair of runs in the first and third innings.
Overall, Fried gave up 7 hits, 4 runs (all earned), walked a pair and struck out five over his four inning outing.
Osuna, who the Jays signed as a 16 year-old from Mexico, was widely considered the top international prospect in 2011. He was ranked 90th on MLB.com's preseason list. Osuna perhaps faced a bigger challenge with the Tin Caps, who came into the game with a .272 team BA, and a 31 pitch first inning was a huge test for the 18 year-old, who escaped the frame haven given up only a walk. Fort Wayne touched Osuna for 3 runs in the bottom of the third, one of which came after he failed to cover home on a wild pitch, allowing the 2nd run of the inning to score from third base. Osuna hurled 3 2/3 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 runs (all earned), while walking one and striking out five, with one wild pitch. Osuna was also up in the strike zone a bit, recording only one groundball out and five flyouts.
Fort Wayne lit up the Lansing bullpen for 14 runs after the departure of the heralded prospects to win the game 14-8. Neither starter figured in the decision.
A highlight of the game offensively for Lansing was the play of second baseman Christian Lopes, who went 3 for 5, and improved his line to .327/.333/.429.