St. Cloud, MN – Former St. Cloud Rox outfielder TJ Friedl signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, receiving the highest bonus in MLB history for a non-drafted free agent.
Friedl was previously thought to be ineligible to sign this year, but it was recently discovered that he was a redshirt sophomore, meaning it was not against MLB rules for teams to sign him. Friedl signed for a $735,000 bonus, setting the record for the highest bonus for a non-drafted free agent.
Friedl appeared in 16 games for the Rox this season, holding a .373 batting average. He drove in 11 runs and scored 15 runs with 12 stolen bases. There was only one game this year in which Friedl appeared that he did not reach base. Friedl also had multiple hits in half of the games that he played in.
In late June it was announced that Friedl would have the chance to try out for the USA collegiate national baseball team. He made the team and played with them all over the world, including Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Cuba. Friedl hit .290 in 18 games for the national team, which was the fourth best average on the team. He had seven extra base hits, including a home run, and stole four bases, which was the second most on the team.
Outfielder Ben Deluzio also signed a free agent contract this summer. Deluzio appeared in seven games for the Rox in 2016, holding a .368 batting average. He drove in two runs, scored eight times, and also drew two walks while holding a .500 on base percentage with St. Cloud. He reached base in five of the six games in which he made a plate appearance.
Deluzio signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 17. He was assigned to their rookie affiliate, the Arizona League Diamondbacks where he hit .364 in four games. He was quickly promoted to the Class-A Short Season Hillsboro Hops, who he currently plays for.
When Friedl debuts in the minor leagues he will be the 40th former Rox player in franchise history to play in for an MLB affiliated team. 34 of these players have been taken in the MLB amateur draft, while six have signed as free agents.
The St. Cloud Rox are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 23rd season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 150 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.stcloudrox.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store and on Google Play.