NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. --
The scene was essentially set.
Family, friends and teammates of Max Fried
assembled at a trendy restaurant just on the outskirts of Los Angeles and played the waiting game with the hopes that the senior pitcher from Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)
would learn his fate sooner rather than later.
On the big-screen television, high-definition of course, Monday's 2012 Major League Baseball Draft unfolded. Fried was projected as first-round pick after the 6-foot-5 lefthander enjoyed a breakout effort this past season as the ace of the staff.
Much to the satisfaction of everyone in attendance, it didn't take long for him to hear his name called.
Fried was selected No. 7 overall by the San Diego Padres. And when his name was announced by MLB commissioner Bud Selig, a once calm and subdued banquet room instantly turned raucous. An outburst of pandemonium took place as Fried moved an all-important step to closer to realizing his life-long dream of playing in the big leagues.
"Ever since I was 5 years old, I wanted to play Major League Baseball,'' Fried said. "I thought that I might be taken in the first round, possibly by some team with a pick in the Top 10. To sit back and think about things now, it's an incredible feeling.
"Right after the commissioner called my name, everyone went crazy. We couldn't believe it. Then, I got a call from the Padres' Josh Byrnes. The Padres are excited to have me as a part of their organization. I am honored to play for them too. It's a win-win situation. Plus, my family will be able to see me play. The trip to San Diego is about two hours from my house.''
Fried initially committed to playing college ball for UCLA prior to the draft. Honing his skills with the Bruins, however, doesn't appear to be an option anymore. Signs point to him being on the fast-track for his professional debut with the Padres, although a stint in the minor leagues figures to be the first order of business.
"Max still has some work to do, but he has all the tools necessary to compete and be successful at the next level,'' Harvard-Westlake coach Matt LaCour said.
Fried proved to be far superior than most of his peers while at Harvard-Westlake this past season. In 12 starts, he compiled an 8-2 record with a 2.02 earned run average. Fried was overpowering, most times, and finished with 105 strikeouts in 66 innings of work.
Based on his efforts, his stock increased in the scouts' eyes. Accordingly, the Padres pulled the trigger and picked Fried.
"Having everyone around, 70-plus people, the family, the friends, the teammates, the Harvard-Westlake community, it was great that so many people shared the special moment with Max when he found out the Padres picked him in the draft,'' said Jonathan Fried, Max's father. "It was a wonderful environment. A memory we will all remember for a long time.
"We're very proud, my wife and I are happy parents. You hope that your children set goals and to see Max accomplish his, well let's just say that is amazing. He set his mind to becoming a professional baseball player and has worked very hard to make it.''
Fried was not the only individual from Southern California to be selected in the first round. His Harvard-Westlake teammate Lucas Giolito
, in fact, was taken by the Washington Nationals at No. 16 after suffering through an injury-plagued senior season.
The day belonged to Fried, nevertheless. His hard work and perseverance paid off. His time and effort were rewarded, at long last Monday, with a celebration that won't soon be forgotten by his family, friends and teammates.
"All the support that I've had over the years, the only way to do this thing right was to have the people that have meant the most to me around, right by my side, when my name flashed up on the television screen as the No. 7 pick of the Padres,'' Fried said.
Fried, along with family and friends, did indeed do things right.Watch more videos of Harvard-Westlake baseball