The Draft signing deadline may have passed on July 15, but it appears the Cincinnati Reds aren't quite done. MLBPipeline.com has learned Cincinnati will sign University of Nevada outfielder TJ Friedl for an undisclosed bonus. The Reds have not confirmed any deal is in place.
It was not discovered that Friedl, who just returned from Cuba as part of the United States National Collegiate Team, was eligible to be drafted or signed until after the Draft was completed. The Reds were one of a few teams who discovered the left-handed-hitting outfielder had redshirted as a sophomore in 2015, thus making him eligible. The Reds and the Rays were the teams believed to be the most interested in acquiring the 5-foot-10, 170-pound outfielder.
As a passed-over player from this year's class, any bonus the Reds give Friedl will count against this year's spending pool. The Reds had $13,923,700 to spend, the largest pool in the Draft this year. Prior to signing Friedl, Cincinnati had handed out $13,897,100 in bonuses that counted against that pool. Teams can go up to five percent over their pool without having to forfeit a Draft pick. Assuming the Reds would not do that to come to terms with Friedl, that leaves them with just over $700,000 to potentially give him as a bonus.
According to some evaluators, Friedl, who hit .290/.329/.536 with five stolen bases during Team USA's month-long season this summer, was the second-best position player on the roster, behind Vanderbilt's Jeren Kendall.
"He has been unbelievable," said College National Team manager George Horton during the team's series vs. Chinese Taipei in July. "Not in our wildest dreams when we were putting this team together did we expect to get what we are getting out of him. When he was described to us I thought he would be a little grinder, but he is hitting the ball in the gap, he is running the bases, he's push bunting.
"Him and Jeren (Kendall) at the top of the lineup are fun to watch," said Horton. "I wish we had about nine of those guys, they are little pests. I just tip my cap to T.J. Bruce, Jake Silverman and the Nevada staff for bringing his name to the table. He belongs on Team USA, there is no question about that."
Friedl gets a 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale for his speed, with good line-drive gap power and excellent basestealing skills. He brings leadoff-type skills and can play up the middle, a highly sought combination. After a very strong turn with Team USA this summer, Friedl would have been high on every team's follow list had he still been around for the 2017 Draft.
The signing gives the Reds another hitter in what had been a very position player-heavy Draft class. Cincinnati took Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel No. 2 overall, then followed up with toolsy high school outfielder Taylor Trammell at No. 35. In the second round, the Reds added Clemson catcher Chris Okey.