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freddie-freemans-outstanding-year | August | 2010 Articles

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Freddie Freeman's Outstanding Year

Written by Joe Lucia on .

Freddie Freeman is the Braves top position prospect, without a shadow of a doubt. He's still kind of flying under the radar among the masses though...how good of a year is he really having? For his entire career, Freddie Freeman has played in the shadow of Jason Heyward. No matter how well Freeman played, he was also overshadowed by his higher drafted, more highly touted teammate. Heyward was the first round pick, Freeman the second round guy in the 2007 draft. After debuting with the GCL in 2007 after the draft, the duo spent 2008 in Rome. Both players excelled, but it was Freeman, not Heyward, who won the Hank Aaron Award, which is awarded by the organization yearly to the top offensive performer in the organization. Yet, it was Heyward who got all the buzz, ranking second on the Braves prospect list going into 2009, while Freeman ranked fifth. 2009 was a divergent year for the duo. Both would begin the year in Myrtle Beach and perform very well, earning promotions to Mississippi a third of the way through the year. Once reaching Mississippi, their stars went in opposite directions. Heyward OPSed 1.057 in 47 games with the M-Braves, while Freeman scuffled, battling injuries and ineffectiveness, finishing with a .650 OPS in AA. You know what happened from there: Heyward would be named the top prospect in all of baseball, while Freeman would rank 87th on that list. A strong spring gave Heyward the starting right field job in Atlanta to start the year, while Freeman was ticketed for AAA Gwinnett. Both men would succeed greatly with their 2010 clubs. Its worth noting that AAA is home to a lot of different players in baseball. You've got the players like Freeman, who still need some more conditioning before reaching the majors. You've got the 4A players who can't stick in the majors but excel at AAA. Then you've got the career minor leaguers who are just looking for a break. For his season in the International League, Freeman is only 20 years old - he doesn't turn 21 until after the season ends, on September 12th. The only player in the league younger is Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero. That makes what Freeman is doing in the IL just that more special. As a 20 year old, in AAA, Freeman is second in the league in batting average, with a .324 mark. The only player ahead of him is teammate Barbaro Canizares, who is 30 years old and has spent most of the last 4 seasons in the International League. Freeman's .915 OPS ranks second in the league behind Rays farmhand Dan Johnson. Dan Johnson is 30 years old, spent last season in Japan, and is a quintessential 4A player: he's got a solid if not unspectacular .757 OPS in 343 major league games, and has a .980 OPS in 7 seasons in AAA. He's about as much of a journeyman as you can get. Consider this: there are 15 players in the IL with an OPS above .800. Freeman, the aforementioned Montero, and Reds prospect Yonder Alonso are the only ones under the age of 25...and Freeman has an edge of 67 points on Montero and 90 points on Alonso. Freeman's .383 OBP ranks 5th in the league, behind the aforementioned Johnson and Canizares, along with Johnson's 36 year old teammate Chris Richard and Freeman's 31 year old teammate, the versatile Wes Timmons. Triple A stats tend to get pushed under the table, because as I mentioned, its usually where mediocre major league players go to thrive. In this instance, a young superstar is flourishing, and his efforts are getting largely ignored. Its really a damn shame, and I hope that more people will give Freeman his due when looking at the context of his efforts this season.

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