PHOENIX – The Diamondbacks, with the worst record in the National League, can afford to test the youngsters, with an eye to the future. That has definitely been the case with right-hander Luis Frías, 23, and the organization’s 13th prospect on the MLB Pipeline roster.
This month, the Dominican pitcher debuted in the majors against teams of the stature of the Astros and Dodgers, playing against hitters like Jose Altuve, Trea Turner, Max Muncy and Justin Turner. One of the positive results was that his first strikeout delivered at the MLB level was against one of those big names: Altuve.
“You see him on television, a tremendous legend,” said Frías. “Being able to pitch him and being able to have that accomplishment of being your first major league strikeout was quite (exciting).”
Frías, proud to be the second major league player in the town of Caño Azul de Salomón, Río San Juan — after Fernando Martinez, a former Mets luxury prospect — was aware of the challenge the entire time. Against the Astros on Sept. 19, it was three walks that represented the biggest hurdle in his presentation. Against the Dodgers, the quality of the “blue” hitters resulted in a double, a single, a sacrifice fly and a walk.
“A little difficult, but you try to give your best and fight,” said Frías. “I always say, ‘They have the bat and I have the ball. We’re going out and we’re going to compete. ‘ As better as they are, one day they will fail. Thank God, I have been able to give my best ”.
Frías’s statement echoes what Diamondbacks management believes, which saw Frías go 9-7 with a 4.93 ERA among three minor league levels in 2021, including 5.82 in five starts by Triple-A. Reindeer. When Frías — who has a fastball approaching 100 mph, combined with a slider and a curveball — commands his pitches, he has the stuff to be a pretty effective pitcher.
“He came to compete because we thought he had earned the opportunity to come compete,” said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo. “Every now and then you would see some ‘inflated’ games (of a lot of runs allowed) and the numbers weren’t the best. I am aware of that, but there were also some good performances there. We thought he could come here, learn fast and make some adjustments. “
An all-time minor league starter, Frías tries to make the adjustment as a reliever in this litmus test. During the winter, the right-hander — selected by the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican League Draft this year — will return home to Nagua, DR to prepare for 2022.
“Work hard,” he said. “I return to my routine of hard work to come next year and compete and help the team as much as possible.”
And of course, he’ll already have some Major League Baseball flavor under his belt.
“I put him in really tough games and against tough teams,” Lovullo said. “I’ve done it intentionally, because I want him to feel all of that and see what that part of the competition is about.”