Foothill grad TJ Friedl signs with Cincinnati Reds

Outfielder has whirlwind free agency after missing MLB draft over eligibility confusion

A simple misunderstanding has turned into a financial gain and a professional baseball career for Foothill High graduate TJ Friedl.

When we last wrote about Friedl, who was coming off an incredible baseball season for the University of Nevada at Reno, he was heading off to play for Team USA in international competition.

Team USA was made up of college players and after playing exhibition games here in the United States, headed off to Korea for the international play.

During the two weeks when he was named to Team USA and they left for Korea, Friedl went from looking forward to his junior year at Nevada to getting ready for a career with the Cincinnati Reds organization.

And all because of a simple misunderstanding.

When a baseball player opts to go to college instead of turning pro, he must put in three years of college or turn 21 before he can apply for the Major League Baseball draft. In the case of the Friedl family, they thought it meant three years of playing baseball, not just attending college.

As TJ had one redshirt year in college, the family thought he had to play one more season before applying to the draft. In reality, Friedl was eligible to apply to this year's draft as he had attended college for three years.

But while Friedl was down in Southern California wowing the staff of Team USA, as well as several Major League scouts, he was approached by a MLB executive.

"The general manager of the (Los Angeles) Angels pulled TJ aside and asked him why he wasn't in the draft," said Terry Friedl, TJ's father. "He told him that he needed to play three years of baseball. The Angels guy looked at TJ and said it was three years of academics."

It escalated quickly from that point as TJ was a free agent because he went undrafted. He was available to any team in baseball.

"His phone started blowing up," Terry said. "Teams were trying to figure out how they missed him. I had six agent firms contacting me."

The family sat down and selected an agent and a financial adviser, a necessity to sort through all the options. At that point, teams were instructed to contact the agent and not bother the family.

Initially it was the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays that came through with the best offers. Finally, the Reds entered the fray late, coming from "out of the blue," according to Terry.

Still there was one thing hanging over TJ's head -- he felt like he was letting down his teammates and coach T.J. Bruce at Nevada if he went pro. He was set to be the captain for the Wolfpack, a position he didn't take lightly.

"He called the coach at Nevada and talked about it," Terry said. "Coach Bruce told him, if you don't sign a contract, I will come down there and sign it for you. He really needed to hear that."

The self-professed National League family felt it was an easy decision to pick the Reds and the ride started there.

This week, the family flew back to Cincinnati where TJ underwent his physical before signing his contract. The family will take in a Reds' game Thursday against St. Louis and fellow Pleasanton product Stephen Piscotty, who plays for the Cardinals.

Following that, the parents will head home and TJ will travel to Billings, Mont. for Rookie League. After the rookie season ends, he will spend some time in Arizona before coming back home in October.

Friedl will head back to Nevada for a while to knock off some classes, as the family is keeping his room at school so TJ can keep his education going. Quite the roller coaster.

"It was crazy," Terry said. "All this happened in such a short period of time."

Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact Miller or submit local high school sports scores, game highlights and photographs for his weekly Pleasanton Preps column, email him at

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1 person likes this
Posted by Denise Robb
a resident of Valley Trails
on Aug 4, 2016 at 12:35 pm

We couldn't be happier for you TJ! You make us all so proud! GO GET EM and we will be watching you every step of the way! TROBB's family!!

Like this comment
Posted by Adam from Dayton, OH
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 4, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Looking forward to following TJ through the Reds' organization. He sounds like a talented, hard-working young man with a great attitude. It really seems like we are blessed to have him aboard.

God Bless!

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