Day after signing with Reds, Friedl has dream debut

Cincinnati's No. 12 prospect goes deep in first two official professional at-bats

August 6th, 2016

After a whirlwind week in which he signed with the Reds on Thursday, TJ Friedl added another chapter to his storybook summer in his professional debut for Rookie-level Billings on Friday night.

One day after signing as a non-drafted free agent, Friedl, the Reds' No. 12 prospect, homered in his first two official at-bats and had a perfect 3-for-3 night at the plate to power Billings past Ogden, 4-3.

Friedl went deep in his first professional at-bat in the first inning, was hit by a pitch in the third and then drilled his second home run of the game during his next trip to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. In his final at-bat, Friedl dropped down a bunt single.

"I'm pretty much on cloud nine," Friedl told "Standing out there for the anthem, my nerves set in. The butterflies were going pretty hard. I wanted to get my first pro hit out of the way, that was the big thing. After I hit that home run, I was able to calm down a little bit."

Friedl had a strong campaign for the University of Nevada this past spring, hitting .401/.494/.563 with 21 extra-base hits, 68 runs scored and 13 steals over 58 games, but he wasn't drafted because MLB clubs didn't realize that he had redshirted his sophomore year and was therefore eligible to be selected after his sophomore season.

The left-handed-hitting outfielder continued to impress during his month-long stint playing for Team USA's College National Team, when he posted a .290/.329/.536 batting line with five steals. Upon Friedl's return from his month-long stint with Team USA that took him to Taiwan, Japan and Cuba, the Reds jumped on the opportunity to add him to their system, signing the 20-year-old for $735,000, the largest bonus for a non-drafted free agent.

"All that traveling took a toll," Friedl told "Thankfully, the Reds gave me time to go to Reno and move. Four or five days off was all that I needed for my body to be back in shape. I felt ready to go. Today, I was actually anxious to play. The manager came up and asked me when my last game was. I told him it was July 27, and he said, 'Oh, so you haven't sat that long.' I said, 'No, I'm ready to go today.'"

Though he has four tools that grade as 50 or better (on the 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is considered average), Friedl stands out most for his plus speed and advanced hitting ability from the left side of the plate, the combination of which could make him a prototypical leadoff hitter once fully developed.

But on Friday, it was his power that made his debut special.

"Once I saw it clear the fence, I was like, 'No way. No way that just happened,'" Friedl told "The first one was fantastic, but on the second one, I thought, 'This is a dream. This isn't really happening.'"