Mini camp started today, which not only features a large group of major league players working out in Bradenton for a week, but a large group of minor league players, who will be here for at least two weeks. When looking over the roster of players that are here, one name surprised me: Wes Freeman.
You may remember Freeman from the Pirates’ system a few years ago. He was a 16th round pick in the 2008 draft out of high school, receiving $150,000 to sign. His minor league career was filled with two themes: a ton of raw power, and way too many strikeouts. There was one stretch where it looked like he was putting it all together, when he hit for an .830 OPS in State College in 2011. However, the next year he had a .428 OPS in Bradenton, striking out in 49 of his 150 at-bats.
Freeman retired after the 2012 season, but I confirmed that he has been activated by the Pirates off the voluntarily retired list. He’s back as a player, rather than returning as a player/coach. He turns 25 at the end of the month, and will probably go to Bradenton or Altoona to serve as organizational outfield depth.
One scout in 2011 said that he looked like the only future MLB player on the State College roster, which was a roster that included prospects like Alex Dickerson, Stetson Allie, Nick Kingham, and Joely Rodriguez. Without digging up that old comment, I can’t remember if that was the entire team, or just the hitters. He had a big frame, and had the look of a major league player at the time. The strikeouts were the main thing holding him back, and I doubt that his strikeout issues are gone. He was always an interesting prospect due to his raw power and big frame, and I’m sure that is still there. I haven’t seen Freeman here yet, although I know he is here, since his locker is full.
UPDATE 12:05 PM: I talked to Freeman a few minutes ago. He said that he hasn’t played baseball since retiring, but that he has been working as a Strength and Conditioning Coordinator at the Inspiration Academy in Bradenton. He’s looking to give baseball one last shot, and said that he basically has 30 days in Spring Training to try and make the roster of one of the minor league affiliates. Freeman looks like he’s in great shape, which makes sense, considering his previous job.