Recent

0

Is Wes Freeman Climbing in to the Top 50?

Freeman has six homers in 106 at-bats this year.

One of the big stories in the minors the last few weeks has been the hot streak by outfield prospect Wes Freeman.  In his last 12 games, Freeman has been on fire, with a .362/.400/.745 line in 47 at-bats.  He’s recorded a hit in ten of those 12 games, and has hit five home runs during this stretch.  Perhaps the most impressive stat is that his strikeout rate has dropped to 23.4% in this time period.  Prior to this hot streak, Freeman was hitting for a .169/.197/.237 line, with an atrocious 35.6% strikeout rate.

Freeman was drafted in the 16th round of the 2008 draft out of high school.  He signed for $150 K, which isn’t a huge amount, but which is considered significant for a 16th round pick.  He was touted for his power, which was raw, but had the ability to be plus power.  Overall, Freeman was considered a very raw prospect, in sort of a high risk/high reward type fashion.

We saw how raw Freeman was in his first few years in the minors.  In 2009, Freeman played in short season ball, going to the Gulf Coast League.  He hit four homers in 157 at-bats, but had a bad .210/.275/.344 line, and a horrible 37.6% strikeout rate.  The following season the Pirates challenged him by sending him to West Virginia for full season ball.  Freeman was completely over-matched, with a .155/.223/.238 line in 84 at-bats, and a 52.4% strikeout rate.  He moved back down to the GCL, where his numbers were worse than the previous year.  In 75 at-bats, Freeman hit for a .187/.265/.267 line, with a 46.7% strikeout rate.

It’s obvious why the Pirates have stuck with Freeman for so long.  First of all, there’s the raw power.  We’ve seen a lot of that lately, although throughout his career that power has been limited due to his free swinging ways.  His 6′ 4″, 215 pound frame gives him the look of a future major leaguer.  Even with the size, he’s got the speed needed to play center field, and a very strong arm.  I’ve heard him described by opposing scouts as the only position player prospect on the State College roster.  That was before Alex Dickerson arrived, but also back before Freeman’s current run of success.

The current hot streak is a small sample size, but it also displays a flash of Freeman’s potential.  However, one hot streak isn’t going to be enough to say that Freeman’s career is back on track.  Seeing the power, the hitting, and the lowered strikeout rates are definitely encouraging signs.  However, Freeman has only walked four times this year in 112 plate appearances.  He’s going to need to improve his plate patience in order to have success at a level higher than short season A-ball.

The hot streak does raise one question: should Freeman be considered a top 50 prospect?  The overall numbers have been bad, but the talent is there.  Freeman is only 21, so he’s still young enough to revive his career in baseball.  He also possesses a skill that is rare in the Pirates’ minor league system: power.  His .207 isolated power ranks fourth among prospect eligible players in the Pirates’ system with 100 or more at-bats this season (he’s fifth if you count foreign rookie leagues).  The other three players are Jarek Cunningham, Calvin Anderson, and Matt Curry, ranked in that order.  If his hot streak became more than a hot streak, and carried over through the final month of the 2011 season, I’d have to give serious consideration to adding him to the top 50 prospects next year.  I don’t see him ending up higher than 40th, and probably not higher than 45th.  He has the talent, and if we’re starting to see that talent translate over to success, then we might be seeing the emergence of a sleeper prospect for the Pirates.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Daily Prospect Profile: Brock Holt

Next Story »

One Year Ago Today: Pirates Bolster Bullpen

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KAH4DKCURJYHBMKZIAASB6DP44 VincentR

    That’s good news we Pirate fans could use right about now.

  • Anonymous

    I think he could move into the top 50 based more on the fact the system isn’t as deep as last year. Last year when posting my top 50 I had 75 names to choose from when I started, this year a quick count barely got me to 50 and some of those were more just to fill out the bottom of the list. Basically means that anyone that surprised,like Freeman if he can keep it up, had a good shot of making the list

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TQC5HKTKJ52MK7PN2CBR4JIWYQ Kevin

      Interesting I would have guessed that the farm system is much deeper than previous years. The talent level at GCL and below is very impressive.

      I would hazard a guess that the current Pirates farm system will be more productive in the long run than the more highly regarded Rays or Braves systems.

      BTW Freeman looks like a teenage Jose Canseco.

      • Anonymous

        The GCL is the team with the most potential at this point but those players are so far away that unless their name is Heredia they won’t get ranked too high. You have to proceed with caution with them. It is possible that at some point Luis Urena is a top 5 prospect in the system if you read the scouting reports but that statement is all about projection and at his pace you might not even consider him for the top 30 for another couple years.

          Basically I see the top 50 this year containing a lot more speculation than last year and the system being less top heavy and more cluttered as you get in the 15-30 range to the point where two people who follow the system very closely could have lists that look totally different

        • Anonymous

          ….and you and I are 2 of those people.  I agree with you that it gets muddled from 8-20, but I think there is a tremendous amount of interesting players to rank from 20-50.

          Someone like a Zac Fuesser will probably generate some interesting debate around the Pirate Prospects e-offices this offseason on where he should go.

          As for the post, Freeman doesn’t even sniff my top 50 unless he continues to go nuts the last month of the season.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TQC5HKTKJ52MK7PN2CBR4JIWYQ Kevin

          Interesting I wouldn’t rank Urena among the top 10 NDFAs on the GCL team.

          Hitters: Osuna, Hanson, Garcia, Carvajal, Polanco
          Pitchers: Castro, Heredia, Lopes, Herrand, Sanchez

  • Lee Young

    IF you go on his raw potential and this latest hot streak, he easily slides into the 40-50 range.

  • Lee Young

    IF you go on his raw potential and this latest hot streak, he easily slides into the 40-50 range.

  • Anonymous

    There’s been a lot of enthusiasim about the system overall, but comments from those who actually see the players and follow them closer than most casual fans dampen that feel good atmosphere. But, FWIW I agree. The minors aren’t stacked. Overall, position-wise, it doesn’t look to be deep at all and lacking in above-average talent. Pitching is below expectations IMO. There is emphasize on certain development items, but Hereida’s IP is worrisome. No need to throw his arm away at 16, but the kid has pitched a lot of innings and against older competition. Tallion has been mildly disappointing and Allie has been a major disappointment.

    Cunningham has been an offensive force at his position but isn’t he defensively challenged? If so, would a move to the OF be beneficial. I think it would have beneficial to have gotten a month’s worth of experience at the next level for Marte and Grossman.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TQC5HKTKJ52MK7PN2CBR4JIWYQ Kevin

      The three teams I follow closest are the Pirates, Rays, and Braves.  Generally the Rays and Braves are considered to have top 3 systems.

      I’d be curious to see if you think the Rays and Braves are “stacked” with above-average position players.

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    3 hours ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    1 day ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    2 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    4 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    6 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    6 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More