- Full name David Richard Freese
- Born 04/28/1983 in Corpus Christi, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 213 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School South Alabama
- Debut 04/06/2009
Drafted in the 9th round (273rd overall) by the San Diego Padres in 2006 (signed for $6,000).
View Draft ReportFreese, 23, could have been a prime candidate to sign following the season as a fifth-year senior, but South Alabama earned a spot in the NCAA regional play, meaning he would likely wind up back in the draft. He was named Sun Belt Conference player of the year after batting .415-11-70 with a .509 on-base percentage. He has big-time raw power and mashes balls to all fields when he gets his arms extended. Freese's approach is good; his defense at third base is not. He'll probably have to play first base, though some scouts suggest he could catch. There, however, his arm strength and throwing motion could be problematic.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Freese made the Cardinals' 2009 Opening Day roster, but his stay was fleeting. An ankle injury from a January car accident caught up with him in the spring, prevented him from seizing the wide-open third-base job and led to surgery in May. Freese was arrested in December on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the fourth time in less than three years that a member of the team faced drunken-driving allegations. The Cards acquired the St. Louis native from the Padres in a December 2007 trade for Jim Edmonds, and the club picked up more of Edmonds' salary to pry Freese away. Freese has been a consistent .300 hitter, while also showing the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. Memphis won two playoff games by 1-0 scores, both times on Freese homers. His short swing and good bat speed already have translated well in a few major league at-bats. When healthy, he has been more than serviceable at third base, where he shows solid arm strength. Freese can bury himself in whiffs at times, such as when he struck out 24 times in 85 at-bats last August. It's not clear his power will translate immediately in the majors, though he figures to keep his average up. He's a below-average athlete and runner. Encouraged by Freese's production after his foot surgery, St. Louis will give him every chance to start at third base. He'll be 27, so he needs to seize the opportunity.
In the deal that sent icon Jim Edmonds to the Padres last offseason, the Cardinals were willing to cover more of Edmonds' salary if the Padres parted with Freese. At the time, Freese filled a hole on the organization depth chart--a third baseman who could hit--and brought the added virtue of being a native, a graduate of suburban Lafayette High, Ryan Howard's alma mater. St. Louis skipped Freese past Double-A and watched him lead the system in OPS (.911) and RBIs (91). Freese has hit for average throughout the minors and has the ability to drive the ball the opposite way with authority. Of his 26 homers last year, 20 went to center or right field. Billed as nothing special at third base, he impressed the Cardinals with steady play that was more superb than serviceable. Freese can tumble into stretches where he'll get himself out, as he did when striking out 59 times in his first 178 Triple-A at-bats. He's a below-average runner. Though he tried catching in instructional league with the Padres, he offers the most realistic value at third base--a problem with Brett Wallace in the organization. The clock is ticking on Freese, who will be 26 in 2009. Wallace is going to start at third base in Triple-A, so Freese will hope there's room on the big league club for a righthanded bat.
As a fifth-year senior in 2006, Freese could have signed as a free agent before the draft, but South Alabama qualified for the NCAA regionals and shrunk his window to one day. He opted to take his chances in the draft, where he signed for $6,000 as a ninth-round pick. Freese has turned in two solid seasons since turning pro, and his strength, bat speed and strike-zone judgment all are above average. He shows the ability to stay inside the ball and drive it the other way with authority. He can turn on inside pitches, too, though his home run power was muted by Lake Elsinore's tough left-center field power alley. His two-strike approach could use more consistency, as he often gets himself out by chasing breaking balls. San Diego has been pleased with Freese's consistency at third base, where he has shown solid-average range, hands and actions to go with an average throwing arm. Because of the organizational logjam at third base, however, he spent time at catcher in instructional league, where he showed solid blocking skills and a plus arm at times. He would need at least a season of work behind the plate if he's to make the switch, so his 2008 assignment will be up in the air until spring training. His bat is ready for Double-A if he stays at third base.
Freese and Blue Jays top prospect Adam Lind starred on the infield corners for South Alabama in 2003 and 2004. A fifth-year senior last year, Freese could have signed as a free agent before the draft, but the Jaguars qualified for NCAA playoffs and shrunk his window to one day. The Sun Belt conference player of the year opted to take his chances in the draft and wound up with $6,000 as a ninth-round pick. Freese quickly established himself as one of the top value picks when he demolished the Northwest League and slugged 13 home runs on his way to playing at low Class A in his first half-season. Naturally, it is Freese's big-time bat that will be his ticket to the big leagues, as his strength, bat speed and strike-zone judgment are all above average. In his short low Class A stint, he showed the ability to stay inside the ball and drive it the other way with authority. The Padres would like Freese to stand more upright at the plate to generate more lift to his pull side, and he needs to prove he can hit major league caliber breaking balls. Accounts of his defense vary, as area scouts regarded Freese as a first baseman coming out of college, but Padres officials saw the potential to become at least an average defender at third base. His infield actions, range and arm rate average at best, but his technique needs refinement. He did some catching in instructional league and flashed a few 1.9 seconds pop times, but at 24 a move to catcher probably isn't in the offing. It would surprise no one if he flourishes in high Class A and moves rapidly to Double-A this season.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive 3B in the California League in 2007