Prior to being taken eighth overall in 2014 MLB Draft, Freeland enjoyed one of the more impressive collegiate seasons you’ll see, striking out 128 batters to just 13 walks over 99.2 IP while holding the opposition to a sub-1.00 WHIP and .214 average. Injuries, including bone chips in his elbow and some shoulder fatigue, limited his innings in 2015, though he was able to make up for some lost time with 25-plus Arizona Fall League innings in which he flashed some of his previous dominance.
Through spring training and his first three starts of 2016, Freeland has looked every bit the force he was prior to his injury-filled 2015, wielding a arsenal stuffed with varying looks and velocities, including a three-way fastball ranging from the upper 80s to low 90s (touching 94), an easy plus slider with wipeout action, a hard cutter with short-slider depth and a two-look changeup that can come either with straight dive or more traditional circle-fade. He’ll even mix in a mid- to upper-70s curveball for a change-of-pace pitch that can work as an effective early-in-the-count strike.
In addition to his stuff showing well, Freeland has continued to pound the strike zone with all of his offerings, working effectively with his slider in particular. The pitch has been effective back-dooring to righties and as a swing-and-miss pitch down and away to lefties when he’s ahead in the count. He works out of a low slot, which he can vary for different looks and different shape on his pitches, and comes with some crossfire and effort. He has such impressive control of his body and feel for his mechanics, however, there’s little issue in regularly executing on his offerings and hitting his spots.
Freeland’s worked five, six, and then seven innings in his three starts, striking out 11 over those 18 innings pitched and walking just three. Previously viewed as a prospect likely to move quickly through the minors, Freeland appears to be back on the fast track and could be ready for a cup of coffee with the big club later this summer. –Nick J. Faleris