December 21, 2010 at 12:15 am by Kevin Orris under Atlanta Braves, Farm System, Interview, Player Analysis, Prospects
The day that I agreed to start writing for CAC, I knew that I’d be writing about Freddie Freeman within a week. It wasn’t because I have a man crush, obsession, or anything of the sort. Rather, it’s simply because he’s the one that everyone wants to know about.
Does he have power? Is he the next Jason Heyward or Andy Marte? Is he smart? What will his batting average be? Can he hold his own in the field? How’s his makeup?
These are all questions that I’ve been asked this off-season regarding Freeman from a variety of baseball fans through e-mail and Twitter (@kevinorris). While don’t I claim to have all of the answers, or any of them for that matter, the least that I can do is offer my opinion and insight.
For starters, I interviewed Freeman in August of 2009, shortly after his promotion to Double-A Mississippi. You can listen to 12 minute interview by clicking here (I highly recommend that you do so, especially the 22 seconds).
In my opinion, the interview went well. Freeman opened up more than most prospects do, and it’s important to remember that he was still just 19-years-old.
I’d like to preface my thoughts with the following: fans have a tendency to get their hopes up regarding prospects, but often times the numbers don’t translate right away. Just look at Jason Heyward. My goal isn’t to raise or lower expectations, rather provide a realistic opinion of what the future holds.
Freeman has continued to improve throughout his minor league career, and will likely fall in Baseball America’s Top 15 prospects next season. He hit for a career high .319 average in Triple-A Gwinnett last year, and we can assume that the Atlanta Front Office will give him the opportunity to start at first base next season.
From a physical stand point, he still has plenty of room to grow. He currently stands 6’5”, weighing 225 lbs. He’s clearly not the fastest player (13 career SB on 26 attempts), but he’s been doing his best to build muscle.
In our interview, Freeman calls himself a power hitter, so I’ve got no reason to believe that it’s the area of his game that he feels is his strong suit. All scouting reports indicate that he has the potential to his 30 home runs/season in his career, but I wouldn’t count on many more than that.
His batting average has improved throughout his career, and shouldn’t be much of an issue translating to the big leagues. Although he admits that he has a tendency to be aggressive at the plate, many young hitters struggle with walk rates in their first few seasons, simply because the quality of pitching is that much better.
Defensively, Freeman is sound at first base, and although he has a great arm, it’s often an unnecessary tool for a first baseman.
Overall, I think expectations are pretty high right now. Many fans expect him to hit over .300 with 20 HR and 80 RBI. To be honest, I think a more realistic line would be .280, 15 HR and an unpredictable amount of RBI (as with every player).
I think the closest comparison that could be made between Freeman and a current player is Billy Butler, a first baseman with the Kansas City Royals. Last year, Butler his .318 with 15 HR and 78 RBI, almost identical to what Freeman did in Gwinnett. In Butler’s rookie season he hit .292 with 8 HR and 52 RBI in 360 PA at the age of 21… the same age that Freddie will be entering next season.
I think that we’ve got something special on our hands, but let’s be sure to give it time. Leave your thoughts on Freeman in the comments below, or send me an e-mail at KevinOrris@CapitolAvenueClub.com. I’m excited to see your predictions for Freeman for next season and the years to come.