- By Mike Hartsock WHIO-TV
T.J. Friedl was looking forward to playing in Dayton this season since he’d already lined up a place to live. The Dragons leadoff hitter was going to stay with his cousin until the cousin took a new job out of town.
That cousin is former Dayton Flyers head coach Archie Miller, who left for Bloomington, Ind. two weeks before the Dragons opened the season.
Friedl found a new place to live and then quickly moved into the top spot in the Dragons lineup.
“I think the biggest difference here is the pitching,” Friedl said. “The pitching in Billings was relative to college pitching so it was something I was used to.”
Friedl is tops on the team in extra-base hits this season with 11 doubles, five triples, and one home run.
“I never seek out a long ball, I never try to hit one,” he said. “If I start trying to hit home runs that’s when I get in trouble. I try and stick to the line drives because when I’m hitting good line drives that’s when I feel my best.”
Friedl didn’t have any scholarship offers coming out of high school. He then went undrafted after three years at the University of Nevada after Major League teams didn’t realize he was draft eligible.
“Yeah, I guess you could say overlooked is the word,” Friedl said. “But it’s gotten me to where I am today and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.”
The snub in the draft actually turned into a huge break for Friedl. As an undrafted free agent he was able to negotiate with any team and the offers came quickly.
The Reds ended up winning the bidding war and Friedl signed for $735,000, believed to be the largest deal for a domestic undrafted free agent.
“I’m always going to think of this as a game,” he said. “Everything that happens behind the scenes in the front office is their business and they always have their reasons. As long as I’m playing a kids’ game I’m not going to put any pressure on myself, just go out there and have fun.”