TCN 2013 Cardinals Prospect #24: Sam Freeman

Added to the 40-man just one year ago, Freeman moved quickly in 2012. What is ahead for the left-handed reliever?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
34 LHR 6/24/1987 5-11 175 R L 2008 32nd

School: University of Kansas

Selected 2012 stats

SPR 1 3 1.56 3.78 15 0 1 17.1 12 5 1 4 12 1.35 0.190 0.231
MEM 2 2 2.08 3.79 27 0 0 30.1 25 7 3 12 27 0.97 0.227 0.272
Total 3 5 1.89   42 0 1 47.2 37 12 4 16 39 1.11 0.214  
AFL 0 0 3.86 1.34 7 0 0 7 11 6 0 1 8 0.75 0.333 0.440
StL 0 2 5.40 4.24 24 0 0 20 17 13 2 10 18 0.74 0.230 0.273

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (33): I had concerns about the performance of Freeman in 2012. Mostly it was with his low K rates at Double-A and only slightly better at Triple-A. He improved those in his major league stint and a short stint in the AFL but that was tempered by elevated walk rates in his major league time. All in all, his 2012 season seemed uneventful, not great yet not bad.

Unfortunately, it must not have inspired the Cardinals organization either, as they went out and signed a lefty specialist for the spot that would seemingly have been Freeman's if they thought he was ready. That decision may also have been influenced by the fact that Freeman hasn't to date shown much of a distinct left/righty split that a traditional LOOGY would have.

Barring injury, Freeman almost certainly start 2013 at Triple-A preparing himself as a possible injury replacement or on standby in case someone is traded.

Message board community (27): Freeman was the community's 27th prospect, jumping from 43rd last year. He had touched Double-A in 2009 before his Tommy John surgery, but did not reach Triple-A in first season back in 2011.

This past summer, you know him in part from his time in the majors. Freeman turned 25 during June, so is a reasonable age for a prospect in Triple-A. He has a live arm and is a lefty, so odds are good he will see considerable major league time.

Across levels last year, versus lefties, he averaged 7.7 strikeouts, 2.11 walks, and .42 HR/9 IP. Those figures were 7.53, 3.76, and 1.03/9 IP respectively against righties. In the AFL, he fanned eight and walked only one in seven innings. Freeman is knocking at the door for the Cards and is probably the guy who gets the call if Zep or Choate is hurt. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (15): Freeman, reaching the majors after having been taken in the 32nd round back in 2008, stands as another testament to the Cardinals recent success in scouting and player development.

Here is a pitcher who began the 2012 season in Double-A, yet made 24 appearances with St. Louis before being assigned to fine tune his game in Arizona. In between, Freeman missed time in August with an oblique injury and then his AFL stint was shortened by bicep tendinitis. The latter cost him a chance to pitch in the Rising Stars Showcase.

Readers may notice my aggressive ranking of Freeman compared to the others. It happened last year, too, though it was more pronounced this time. Some people view the Cardinals recent signing of free agent lefty Randy Choate to a three-year deal as a reflection of how the Cardinals may feel about Freeman's future.

I don't see it that way. My theory is that the person most concerned should be incumbent Marc Rzepczynski. Scrabble didn't earn a lot of support last season and is reaching the years when his arbitration-driven salary could put his future roster spot at risk - unless he returns to 2011 form.

In my last check, there are eight left-handers on Memphis' roster, trying to make that next step. Some may see John Gast or Kevin Siegrist ahead of Freeman, but in my book, they are not. Freeman has shown he can pitch in the majors and should be back. However, a partial season at Memphis is probably a better move for him at this stage of his career, anyway.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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