The $150 K bonus that the Pittsburgh Pirates gave to Wes Freeman in the 2008 draft wasn’t as big as some of the other bonuses they gave out, such as the $1 M they gave to Robbie Grossman, or the $900 K they gave to Quinton Miller. However, the bonus was pretty big for a 16th round draft pick. At the time, Freeman was considered very raw, but was touted for his strong frame, and his power potential.
Three years later and not much has changed with Freeman. He’s still very raw, with a career .187/.249/.284 line in 401 at-bats. The most alarming thing has been his strikeout rates, with 164 strikeouts in those 401 at-bats, for a strikeout rate of 40.9%. That number has gotten better this year, although he still is striking out in a third of his at-bats, which isn’t good.
Despite the struggles, Freeman still has a lot of upside. He is athletic, with a strong arm in the outfield, and a little bit of speed for a guy that is 6′ 4″, 215 pounds. The biggest tool he has is his power, although like a lot of other things, that power is raw. It is apparent at times, especially in cases like last night, when Freeman homered twice for State College, giving him three in 67 at-bats this year.
Freeman is a case of numbers vs potential. If the Pirates released him tomorrow, you couldn’t fault them, based on the numbers he’s put up in his career. At the same time, if they held on to him for another year or two, trying to see if he realized his potential, you couldn’t fault them for that either. One scout from another organization called Freeman the only hitting prospect on the State College roster. That was before Alex Dickerson arrived, but at a time when Exicardo Cayonez, Jorge Bishop, Taylor Lewis, and Samuel Gonzalez were all on the team. Based on the offensive struggles for State College this year, that’s not a high complement, but it does say something about Freeman’s potential, even if the odds are slim that he does eventually realize that potential.