the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings
approaches, it's easy to draw parallels between West teammates Hunter
Virant and Max Fried.
are left-handed pitchers.
at 6-foot-3, 172-pounds, and the 6-foot-4, 170-pound Fried offer
tall, lanky frames that point to endless projected potential as they
continue to grow and add strength.
both sit in the low-90s with their fastballs with the ability to spin
sharp breaking balls.
of Camarillo, California and Fried, of Encino, live a little over 30
miles from each other.
have committed to play college at nearby UCLA.
addition, Virant and Fried attended the Perfect Game National
Showcase June 16-19 where they were invited to be a part of the
All-American Classic. The National kicked off a busy summer full of
high-profile events for each player, leading up to the pinnacle to be
played at PETCO Park next weekend.
was an honor to be named to a game that I've always wanted to play,”
Fried said in a recent telephone conversation. “It was really
the Classic celebrates its ninth year of existence, with the last
five being played in Southern California, both players have been
watching the event with great interest over the years.
“I grew up watching the game, so it
was really exciting to get the news,” Virant said of his invitation
to play. “(Perfect
Game) contacted my dad, and my dad asked me if I wanted to play in
the All-American game, and I said 'of course.'”
the fact that they do live about 30 miles away from each other, they
didn't really know one another until they both went through the
process of being recruited to play for UCLA.
gotten to know each other through UCLA, so we're pretty good friends
now,” Virant continued.
to watching the All-American Classic over the years, the stable of
arms that have come out of UCLA hasn't gone unnoticed by either
pitcher. Watching the success of a familiar face, former
All-American Gerrit Cole, the first overall pick in this past year's
draft, made it an easy choice for both young hurlers.
Savage was very inspirational during my visit,” added Fried of his
choice to play for the Bruins. “I felt like it was a place I could
be very successful. It's a great program that offers a great college
success that Head Coach Brian Savage has had developing pitchers got
Virant's attention as well.
really enjoy Coach Savage's presence, he's one of the best coaches in
the nation. I'm hoping I can go there and get a lot better than I am
there is a pretty good foundation to work with for both young
is currently ranked 10th in the nation overall and the first among all left-handed pitchers
from the high school class of 2012. With long and loose arms and
legs, it's easy to see the 90-93 mph fastball velocity he showed as
the National Showcase in mid-June continue to improve. He shows the
ability to add running life to the pitch, as well as a power
curveball. His changeup also is an advanced pitch for a player of
good of his stuff is, Virant is quick to recognize that it takes more
than the abilty to throw hard to enjoy success. His ability to throw
all of his pitches for strikes while effectively changing speeds may
be his best attribute on the mound.
is what sets Fried apart as well, armed with a nasty
fastball-curveball one-two punch that gives him a similar power
profile to Virant. Fried's fastball velocity was a tick below
Virant's at 88-92 at the National, but Fried showed more consistent
diving movement on his heavy fastball, with a similar overall combination of size, stuff and control.
27th overall in the 2012 class, Fried also is a good all-around athlete,
with above average speed and a smooth left-handed swing that could give him
some value as a two-way player at the collegiate level.
the allure of playing in such a prestigious event in a big-league
stadium in front of a large audience as part of a nationally
televised broadcast is an incredible experience for any young player, both sounded
humbled when recognizing the greater importance of the event.
Proceeds of the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings go to support the Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego and the ongoing battle against pediatric cancer. Last year alone, 147,000 children with cancer were treated.
“I definitely want to play at PETCO
to see what it's like to pitch on a big-league field,” Fried said
of the overall experience. “But the hospital visit and the charitable
aspect of the event are great, I'm really excited to do that.
Anything I can do to
give back and help others I really, really enjoy that.”
great. The kids look up to us and they want to be where we are,”
Virant added. “It's a great
opportunity to share a fun experience with the kids.”
the meantime, there is still work to be done, and for the next week,
both players will continue to hone their craft.
been doing a lot of working out physically, and throwing bullpens to
work on my pitches so I'm as ready as I need to be,” Fried said of
his preparation for the Classic. “I want to be able to relax (on
the mound) and play baseball like I've been doing since I was four
is key to Virant's projected success as well.
“(I will) probably just get my rest,”
Virant said of the days leading up to the Classic. “I
want to get out there and compete in a big-league environment at
PETCO Park. Don't try to do too much and take my mind
off of the added attention.”