Phillies 2014 Draft Preview - Kyle Freeland, LHP

The Riverfront in Evansville, Indiana - Noah M. Stubbs

The Phillies took the College Lefty out of High School as a possible overslot guy 3 years ago. With Hoffman out and the draft shifting, it's looking quite possible the Phillies may go this route again.

Freeland is a 6'4" Lefty from Colorado, whom the Phillies picked in the 2011 Draft in the 35th round. The Phillies offered him 9th Round money, but he did not sign and went to College at University of Evansville. There are 2 Pitchers in this draft that are in the same realm as Freeland in terms of Command: Nola and Aiken. In fact, Freeland is kind of a Lefty Nola. I like his stuff better than Nola, and the added bonus that he's a Lefty gives him a bit of an arm up in my book.

He throws a four pitch mix, which acts as more of a five pitch mix. First up is Freeland's Fastball, there's some debate here as I've seen reports that he throws a hard Slider that looks like a 2-seamer and reports that he throws both a 4-seam and 2-seam Fastball. Either way, there's a whole lot of life on both offerings. He works 90-93 and has touched 95 on occasion. His Fastballs are both present Plus pitches. His next offering is a Slider which is Above Average to plus and flashes plus-plus to elite. He throws a Curveball, which is more of an average offering that shows above-average potential. His Change is currently a "show-me" pitch. Essentially it exists, but it's a little too fast and unrefined. It can probably get to be an average or better offering with coaching.

The real headline with Freeland is control. He's struck out over 30% of batters faced and has an absurd 15:1 K:BB ratio. For an Org that just started stressing the importance of avoiding Walks for Pitchers (Hitters have been avoiding walks for decades :rimshot:) and has developed a lot of Pitchers using Cutters and Curves, Freeland seems perfect. And his stuff isn't just fooling inexperienced hitters (though some of that is true), he's throwing over 70% of his pitches for Strikes. No one else does that. Not even Cliff Lee.

Freeland is also a bit of a groundball machine, with a 1.6 GB:FB ratio. Much of this can be attributed to his arsenal of cutters, sliders, curves and pinpoint command to avoid leaving them up in the zone.

The drawbacks on Freeland are his somewhat slight build, which suggests he won't be an inning eater. The profile of an Ace Starter is a guy who obviously has a plus repertoire, but also a guy who can log 200 innings or more. Guys with the plus stuff, but who can only get you 160-180 Innings are your classic #2 Starters. So the frame causes some concern that he can develop into an Ace. His delivery is the second concern some scouts have noted. Freeland repeats it consistently (hence the insane Command), but it's very high effort and across the body. You can see in the video below from Scout that the delivery ends pretty violently. The good part is there's a lot of deception there, the bad part is whether it may be more prone to resulting in injury.

 

 

Freeland's control is so stellar I don't care if he does a spinning cartwheel while pitching the ball with his back facing the plate. The only thing I see that Freeland needs to work on is leg strength. He's built somewhat like Kelly Dugan, in that he has a very well built top half, with spindly legs that could use some bulking up. He's added almost 30 pounds (and an inch or two) since the Phillies picked him, so you can certainly imagine him adding another 10-15 pounds of muscle, his frame will support it and most of it needs to be lower half. If the Phillies were to actually pick Freeland, I can't imagine him not becoming, at minimum, the 3rd best prospect in the system and he should be a quick mover who could be in the Bigs within his first 3 seasons of pro ball.

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