Scouting Padres Prospect #36 Ernesto Frieri

Sandy Alderson has made a declaration saying the organization is adamant about fixing future forays into Latin America, hoping it will be a hot bed for future talent. But 20-year old right-hander Ernesto Frieri is a pitcher that is beginning to meet the promise he garnered when originally inked to his deal in 2003.

An Arizona League All-Star in 2005, Ernesto Frieri had a problem with a blister on the finger of his pitching hand coming out of spring training and needed the extra time to allow it to heal before going to short-season ball.

Frieri began the year with a run of 11.2 innings of scoreless ball as a starter before the first run against crossed the plate on a groundout. After allowing three more runs over his next two starts, Frieri was moved to the bullpen and put together a string of 23 straight innings without allowing an earned run.

In 46.1 innings, Frieri allowed just six earned runs, striking out 59 (sixth best in the league) and walking 29. He surrendered just 21 hits for a WHIP of 1.08.

"Frieri is great," outfielder Josh Howard, who spent a good portion of the year in Peoria, said. "He has good stuff. He is hilarious, always clowning around. But when he gets on the mound he takes care of business."

His average against while with the Arizona Rookie League squad was .137 and he gave up four hits in 53 at bats with runners in scoring position (RISP) and two hits in 24 at bats with RISP and two outs. He ended the year with a 1.17 ERA, going 7-1 in the process to lead the league in wins.

Frieri earned a spot call up to Lake Elsinore, skipping two leagues. He allowed a solo homer in 3.1 innings before being shipped back down to Peoria to finish the year.

The 6-foot-2, 160-pound pitcher has a history of success that dates back to his days in the Dominican Summer League (DSL).

Frieri uses a hard slider with late movement that baffles hitters and he possesses a lively fastball that will touch the low-nineties.

Playing for the Padres squad in the DSL during the 2004 season, Frieri posted a 1.43 ERA in 21 appearances, including one start. In 50.1 innings he boasted a .167 average against and whiffed 59 while walking 24.

A blister on his finger in Instructional Leagues, now a recurring problem, prevented him from impressing.

"He has a blister on his finger so he was not very good in the Instructional League after a good year," minor league field coordinator Bill Bryk said. "When his finger is fine he is fine. He gets a blister on his index finger; it causes him problems and he does not throw as well. Hopefully it will be rectified."

One pitch that he must work on is his changeup. Frieri runs into problems when he loses command of his slider and he will throw it continuously even when it is not working, resulting in high walk totals. Gaining command of another pitch would allow him to mix it up further and keep hitters off-balance – even when his stuff isn't as crisp.

While most would say he has just one season of work as a prospect, Frieri has actually been pitching under the watchful eye of the Padres since 2003 and has put together two dominant seasons. Next year, he will likely be challenged with full season ball – in hopes of maintaining his dominance over better hitters for more than just the three months of rookie ball.

"He has potential but he has a ways to go," added Bryk.

To date, the walks have not gotten the best of him. Fabian Jimenez found out how much high walk totals can hurt – it just takes one well-timed hit to make that walk come back to haunt. Nevertheless, Frieri is an intriguing arm for the future. If he can overcome the blister problems on his hand, locate his pitches consistently, and gain a third pitch he can rely on, Frieri has a bright future.


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