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Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects: No. 2, Freddie Freeman

2. Freddie Freeman, 1B
B/T: L/R 2011 Age: 22 Ht: 6'5" Wt: 225
2010: (AAA)
519 PA, .319/.378/.521, 35 2B, 2 3B, 18 HR, 87 RBI, 6 SB, 43 BB, 84 K
(MLB) 24 PA, 4-24, 2B, HR, RBI, 8 K

Freddie Freeman was selected in the second round of the 2007 draft out of high school by the Braves. It wasn't a bad draft for the Braves considering Jason Heyward came before him. Freeman and Heyward have been close ever since, and 2011 figures to be the beginning of the two-headed monster in Atlanta.

Freeman made his full season debut at 18 years old in A- Rome in 2008, hitting .316/.378/.521 with 33 doubles, 18 homers and 95 RBI. After a less than stellar pro debut in '07, his season at Rome solidified his spot as one of the best positional prospects in the system. It continued in '09 at A+ Myrtle Beach, hitting .302/.394/.447 with 19 doubles and six homers in 297 plate appearances. He made the move to AA Mississippi for the rest of the season, hitting just .248 with a .308 OBP in 169 plate appearances. He suffered from a wrist injury that hindered his performance in '09, so you can't take a lot from it.

The Braves were apparently satisfied with it because they aggressively promoted him to AAA Gwinnett to begin 2010. He more than held his own at 20 years old, maintaining his walk rate of 8.3% while putting up the second highest ISO of his pro career at .200. For the most part, concerns of his power were answered in 2010, as well as whether he could handle advanced pitching despite not recording a ton of walks.

Freeman is huge at 6-5, but he doesn't display monster power that you would expect from a first baseman with his size. He has a short, compact swing that shoots for the gaps, resulting in a lot of doubles that end up being home runs from time to time. He swings down on the ball and doesn't cause a ton of fly balls. It's not unreasonable to be concerned about how his power will play in the majors, but his full season at AAA should be a sign that 25 homers can be an average number for him as he matures, and 30+ could be peak.

With his short swing also means good contact ability. He struggles at times with recognizing change in speeds, but he has the ability to prolong at bats and avoid strikeouts. Freeman does need to continue working on drawing more walks, which is probably his one weakness. His rates may take a hit as he learns the majors, and it may take some time to adjust, but it should be expected at 21 years old.

Freeman's defense has progressed very well through the minors, and he is now very solid defensively. He flashes great footwork and hands while boasting a great arm. Even if it takes time for him to adjust in the box, the Braves will have an above average defensive first baseman. The first base job is Freeman's to lose, and considering there is no solid backup plan, it will take a ton for him to lose it. The Braves will be patient with him and ride out the struggles, but overall, he should produce enough for a sixth slot hitter in his rookie season. Beyond that, he's a middle of the order hitter.

Three Things to Look For in 2011: 1) Rookie Adjustments 2) Walks 3) Power
Destination in 2011: MLB
Ceiling: .300, .360 OBP, 30 HR
My Prediction: .280, .350 OBP, 30 HR Peak

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.