Tuesday, February 1, 2011

#2 Prospect: Freddie Freeman

By all accounts, Freddie Freeman will be the Braves' opening day first baseman. No Brave that still qualifies as a prospect (save perhaps Craig Kimbrel) is as ready to contribute to the major league roster as Freeman.

Many (including me) were puzzled by the decision to send Freeman to AAA to begin 2010 given his struggles in 169 plate appearances at AA in 2009 (.208/.308./.342), but Freeman surprised by putting up a robust triple slash line of .320/.378/.522 in 518 PA.

Freeman struggled mightily in limited big league at bats, going 4/24 with 8 strikeouts and no walks. He'll have to do better in 2011 if the Braves are going to avoid having first base be an offensive sink hole as it has so often in the post-McGriff era.

Freeman profiles as a John Olerud type minus the exceptional defensive play. Freddie doesn't walk a lot, but his high contact rate and gap power give him a chance to provide some offensive value. At his peak he should hit for a high average with about 20-25 HR and 30 doubles a year.

I'd say his upside in 2011 is something along the lines of Gaby Sanchez's 2010. Bill James projects an ambitious .282/.335/.446 line while Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster has him pegged for a more realistic .271/.322/.429 showing.

Freeman was ranked the #17 overall prospect by MLB.com and the #43 prospect by Keith Law.

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