Colorado Rockies Top 25 Under 25: No. 9: Kyle Freeland

Drew Creasman Avatar
March 2, 2017

 

Welcome to the BSN Denver Colorado Rockies Top 25 Under 25 where we will rank the organization’s best players who will be 25 years-old or younger on Opening Day 2017.

Our parameters for this list may be different than others it resembles so let us be clear about them:

  1. The list was created entirely by the BSN Rockies staff and had no other input from any outside sources.
  2. While giving credit for overall (or trade) value, we prioritized an ability to help the MLB club win immediately.
  3. In accordance with this, we also prioritized players with fewer question marks but potentially lower ceilings.
  4. Statistics were considered on equal level with scouting reports in addition to our own field reporting.

Our observations come through a combination of spending parts of each of the past four (going on five) seasons on the ground on the backfields at spring training and through our regular reporting from Rookie Level Grand Junction, talking to coaches, scouts, and journalists both on and off the record. Of course, countless hours are spent on MiLB.tv and combing over public reports from other credible sources.

No. 9: Kyle Freeland, 23 (LHP)

Kyle Freeland came out of Evansville incredibly polished. The fact that he grew up, and grew up playing baseball, in Colorado also gives him a comfortability level with pitching at altitude that can often take guys years to achieve.

Coming into the Rockies organization at an advanced development level has meant that Freeland hasn’t stayed in one place for any real length of time. He has been promoted in the middle of each of his professional seasons despite missing a decent chunk of time in 2015 due to injury. But neither the injury nor the lack of incredibly dominating numbers have scared the Rockies off of aggressively challenging Freeland who has maintained his production every step of the way.

His ERA marks from 2016 of 3.87 in Double-A and 3.91 in Triple-A are unlikely to inspire songs in the hearts of those looking at the box scores. Additionally, Freeland has never been a huge strikeout pitcher (just over 7.00 K/9 for his career) relying more on exceptional command and inducing weak contact. So, why is a guy without stellar ERA or K numbers so high on our list? Because Freeland has shown exceptional control, one of the most important abilities to have while pitching at Coors Field, and because he has managed to pitch with consistency despite so much surrounding turmoil.

Giving consistent effort and production as a starting pitching can be difficult at any level, and what Freeland has done, given zero opportunities to settle into a rhythm and feel comfortable in one league is damned impressive. He came into the organization with the skills to succeed. His fastball sits 92-94 but can tough 96-97, which can be devastating from the left side. He backs that up with an advanced mix of secondary pitches including a cutter/slider combo that really messes with right-handed hitters, and a change-up that screws with everyone’s timing. He throws a show-me curveball as well.

Having so much in his arsenal to work on and refine is part of why Freeland has given up some runs here and there in his minor league career. But his ability to take to instruction and improve each of those pitches steadily is why he keeps getting promoted. About to turn 24-years-old Freeland is coming into the first season where he is likely to completely have the reigns taken off.

Credit: Caitlin Rice, BSN Denver

He will most likely be pitching in the ultra offensive PCL but it would still be nice to finally see some of the ability and adjustments start to pay off in terms of better overall numbers. With an incredibly strong spring (he isn’t off to a great start) Freeland could force himself into the fifth rotation spot conversation. More likely, he stands to be one of the first two guys called up should an injury occur. There has also been talk of easing him into MLB in a bullpen role, which his left-handedness could certainly help, especially down the stretch.

Of course, we wouldn’t be doing our full job if we didn’t once again report that this guy’s intangibles are off the charts. In addition to being an advanced mind on the mound, he doesn’t get intimidated or allow moments of failure to alter his approach. He’s already a bit of a bulldog.

It’s difficult to prove what you can do through the box score when each time you start to dominate in that regard, the club moves you up to face tougher competition. But Kyle Freeland has the tools and the intangibles to be a front-end starter.

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