Reds: TJ Friedl’s fast start will earn him opportunities in 2022

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 19: TJ Friedl #29 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates his first major league hit and home run. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 19: TJ Friedl #29 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates his first major league hit and home run. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

It’s only been six games, but Cincinnati Reds‘ rookie TJ Friedl has made the most of his opportunities since making his big league debut earlier this month. Friedl has flashed enough talent in his brief tenure to ensure that he’ll be given a chance to make the team in spring training next season.

Friedl, at 26 years old, is a bit advanced for a rookie. But, the same could’ve been said for Tejay Antone when the right-hander made his debut last season. Antone was the best reliever in the Reds’ bullpen this season before hitting the IL. Antone eventually underwent Tommy John surgery and won’t be back on the field until 2023.

Friedl has played in six games for Redlegs this season. A former top prospect in the organization, Friedl has hit .400/.417/.700 and scored five runs. The left-handed hitting Friedl can play all three outfield spots, but his limited power suggests center field is his best position.

TJ Friedl may have helped his cause to make the Reds roster in 2022.

The Cincinnati Reds outfield heading into next season is a bit of a mystery. After being a strength of the team heading into last season, there will be a lot of question marks heading into the 2022 season.

Jesse Winker playing left field is about the only guarantee I can give you right now. All signs point to Nick Castellanos opting out of his current contract, so there could be a giant void in right field. Whether Nick Senzel returns to the team in 2022 is anyone’s guess. If he does, how long will it be before the former first-round pick winds up on the injured list?

Shogo Akiyama has not lived up to the hype. While Akiyama is a good defensive outfielder, he has been unproductive at the dish and showed very little power. Akiyama has yet to record a home run in the major leagues.

It’s a safe bet that Tyler Naquin will return in 2022. With Castellanos possibly departing via free agency, Naquin could be an adequate replacement in right field. There’s also Aristides Aquino. The Punisher has unmatched power, but he struggles oftentimes to make contact. Delino DeShields is also currently on the Reds’ roster, but he is a free agent after the season.

TJ Friedl gives the Reds speed and defense off the bench.

I’m not advocating that TJ Friedl be considered to start in the outfield for the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day. However, with the mix of speed and defense, plus a solid hit tool, Friedl could be a nice rotational outfielder for David Bell’s squad.

Friedl’s ability to play multiple positions will certainly help his cause to make the team in 2022. The Reds do not have any minor league outfielders ready to make the leap to the majors next season.

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While Alejo Lopez and Max Schrock have both shown the ability to play the outfield, as has Jose Barrero, all three are infielders by trade. TJ Friedl has put himself in a great spot to make the Opening Day roster in 2022.