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With Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, Riley Pint, Antonio Senzatela, Peter Lambert, Ryan Castellani, Yency Almonte, Ben Bowden and others all in the Colorado Rockies system, Kyle Freeland might be the most forgotten high-level pitching prospect in baseball. 2014’s eighth overall pick is having a splendid spring with a 3.48 ERA across 20-and-two-thirds innings, which have included 19 strikeouts. The left-handed pitching prospect, who you may have written off for his low strikeout rate in the minors—he’s ready.
The Rockies and Freeland have had an interesting relationship, they not only reconstructed his arm, their coaches have reconstructed his repertoire throughout his three seasons in the minors. His strikeout dropped to an alarming below six per nine in the low minors in 2015 but nobody that knew Freeland, or the Rockies plan was concerned. The Thomas Jefferson High School graduate was being taught a changeup and being told to exclusively throw it at times. The Rockies had the strictest of leashes on his pitch mix and good news for the club it appears their developmental plan has worked out.
The leash started to come off in 2016 as told by Freeland’s call up to Triple-A, a few starts into his 12 starts as an Isotope it became clear that the Rockies thought he was just about ready. A 3.96 ERA in the hitter heavily Pacific Coast League, a strikeout rate that climbed back up to seven per nine, and a slightly improved walk rate from Double-A told the story. While an overall jump in his walk rate showed he was searching for more strikeouts, a thing he was told to do last year.
The point is, you have to take Freeland’s minor league numbers with not just a grain of salt but like a beach full of grains of salt. His spring stats and the show he’s flashed over the past six months, are telltale signs he’s ready to take the mound at 20th and Blake.
With Jon Gray announced as the Opening Day starter and Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson expected to start on the road to maximize the amount of appearances they’ll make this year, there is about a 50-50 chance Freeland will start the home opener. As my peer Drew Creasman points out, that would be quite the story.
Story aside, the injuries to the rotation have opened up a spot for Freeland, the same guy we at BSN Denver were told could have easily been called up in August of last year. As the elder of the trio of rookies fighting for the two spots in the starting five, the one with the most developed stuff and the pitcher with the most high minors experience, Freeland is a clear cut choice for Colorado to start the season on the Southside of the mound in Lower Downtown.