Freddie Freeman Showing Power in AAA
By Editorial Staff
I could start by saying Freddie Freeman is a 20-year-old playing in AAA and end it there, and you could get the point that he is awesome. But where’s the fun in that? Freeman has lived in the Braves’ system as the #2 behind Jason Heyward long enough, and though Julio Teheran has established himself as the top prospect, Freeman is now on top of the system as far as positional prospects go. And he has lived up to the billing while being one of the youngest in the league.
I don’t feel the need to write a scouting report on Freeman considering I did it this past offseason. At the time, I wrote his 2009 power numbers were a fluke and he would return to his 2008 numbers or at least level off some. There were many factors contributing to the significant decrease in power last year, including park factors and the wrist injury. He has a short, compact swing despite his large frame and has shown the ability to be tough to strike out. Also his swing results in balls sprayed to both gaps instead of being a strict pull hitter. This is huge for Freeman in that if he doesn’t develop into a 30-homer hitter, he won’t be a strikeout leader and can hit both gaps.
So with the talk of decreasing power as he progresses through the system, it’s only natural that the main focus on Freeman this year is power as he tries to handle another level while being young for it. After raising some doubts early in the season, Freeman has proven worthy of holding his own at AAA, especially lately. He is slugging .490 with an ISO of .198, compared to .521 and .206 with Rome in ’08. He is hitting balls on the ground at the same rate as ’08 at 46% while hitting more line drives at 24%.
Plate discipline remains right in line with his averages as well. He’s walking at a rate above 8% while striking out at 16%, both pretty much equal to ’08. And perhaps a key stat is the .324 BABIP, showing that this season is more in line with what to expect from Freeman.
In the past ten games, Freeman is hitting .324/.395/.486 with two homers and nine RBIs, five walks and nine strikeouts. After hovering in April and May with an OPS of .790 and .719, he has turned it on to .923 and .932 in June and July, while slugging .511 and .556. Hitting lefties is still a concern, as he currently has an OPS of .713 vs. LHP compared to .882 vs. RHP. However, I don’t think it’s something the Braves will address once he starts in Atlanta. The job will most likely be his full-time and he should be given the chance to see lefties in the majors.
If you’re looking for an indication of how Freeman might fare in his rookie season, his 2010 season at Gwinnett is it. He’s not the prototypical masher at first base, but he’s not the prototypical strikeout candidate either, and he’s showing both this season. It’s not too much to expect 20-25 homers for Freeman in his prime with the possibility of a 30-homer season, but he lives in the gaps. So those who doubt his power should remain quiet after this season, or they just don’t realize the type of hitter he is.