August 30, 2010
Rise and Shine, Mr. Freeman
He may not end up being a September call-up, but there's a high chance this first baseman will have a job at the major league level in 2011 anyways. Freddie Freeman, the 20 year old that was a four-star prospect heading into the 2010 season, is not blocked by anyone at first base—Troy Glaus, Derrek Lee and Eric Hinske are all free agents after this year—and has put up an impressive showing at Triple-A Gwinnett this year.
The 6-5, 225 pound left-hander has hit .319/.379/.523 in 457 at-bats this year. He hasn’t been great against southpaws, but his .275/.314/.425 showing is very impressive for a lefty who is 20 years old at the highest level of the majors before you even take into account his line against right-handers (.335/.400/.558). There was concern that his power outage in 2009 had to do with more than just the contusion suffered in his hand thanks to his line drive swing, as he hit just eight homers on the year. Freeman has 18 homers and 35 doubles this season, so while that should quiet some of the speculation it's clear he's going to be more of a line drive power hitter than the kind who gets under a ball and sends it into orbit.
Freeman can draw a walk, but he's not that patient at the plate. He does have great strike zone recognition though, as he generally whiffs out about twice as much as he gets a free pass. This year is a good example of that, with 43 bases on balls against 82 punch outs—that's a walk in 8.5 percent of his plate appearances, and a strikeout in 16.2 percent of them.
Freeman was not considered an impact player at the major league level before this season, but given his youth and the production he's managed at Triple-A, he has at least taken a step closer to that direction. Freeman currently leads the International League in equivalent runs and has a .279 TAv as well as a translated line of .293/.343/.470—that would be quite the campaign for a 20 year old in the majors (Jason Heyward, who is just over a month older, has a .306 TAv, and he's considered one of the most promising players in the entire majors). The average TAv at first is .291, but to be in the same area as Carlos Pena (.281) and also offer plus-plus defense at the position is plenty when at his age—it would also be better than what Troy Glaus (.275) has done this year—merits attention.
In keeper leagues, Freeman is one to scoop up if he's called up in September and made available on your waiver wire. If not, keep an eye out for him next spring, as he may not be an instant star, but he is someone worth paying attention to in leagues where you need to snag kids early on.