The Braves watched Derrek Lee walk with no concerns. The reason: they have tons of confidence that Freddie Freeman will handle the role in his rookie year of 2011. They have every right to believe it, too. However, that does not mean some will not question Freeman's impact.â†µ
Ray Guilfoyle of Minor League Ball listed his fantasy baseball first base prospect list for 2011, and Freeman sits at #4. Honestly, I have no problem with this. Brandon Belt, sitting at #3, emerged as a major prospect in 2010 and projects as a hitter with more discipline and on-base ability. Freeman also projects to have good on-base ability but lower walk rates and higher strikeout rates.â†µ
However, the one knock Freeman cannot shake loose is the projectable power. As Guilfoyle mentions in his post, Freeman's power at the major league level is in question. He has a short, compact swing meant to drill line drives to the gaps, and he does not possess the raw strength of a Jason Heyward to cause such insane backspin. If Freeman can only manage 15-20 home runs a season, he must rely heavily on walks and a high OBP, and it is not a big enough strength for him to rely on. But if he can develop home run power, he could easily emerge as one of the best at an already strong position in the league.â†µ
This is not meant to be a negative post on Freeman. I think he will be a great first baseman for the Braves for years to come, and he will become a staple next to Heyward. But when seeing comments and rankings such as these, it is important to consider where they are coming from and what you should expect from Freeman early in his career.