The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)
School: University of Kansas
Selected 2013 stats
Message board community (20): Sam Freeman, the 27th prospect on the community list last year, made incredible progress during 2013. The left-hander moved all the way up to 20th in the community vote in the course of one year.
Prior to 2012, Freeman seemed to be an outcast in the Cardinals organization because of his erratic inconsistencies - known more as a thrower than actually a pitcher. But after making some adjustments during the off-season, Freeman came on strong in 2013 with what was perhaps his make or break year to show the Cardinals what he had in him as a prospect.
Freeman pitched so well for Memphis in one stretch that he set a new team record among relievers for consecutive scoreless innings pitched - a feat that Josh Kinney last held with Memphis. That performance earned Freeman a chance in the big-leagues once again to redeem himself this time around.
In a year's time, Freeman amazed me in how much progress he had made while away from the majors. He showed he could locate his live fastball for strikes, something at which he was inconsistent in 2012. While mixing in a good-looking circle change-up, he had to slow his arm a bit on his fastball to get the desired differential in his last stint up. Freeman also worked on a knuckle-curve in the off-season. It came along during the regular season and was a fairly useable when he needed it most, against lefties.
2014 will be interesting for Freeman as the Cardinals already have Kevin Siegrist and Randy Choate as the two prime lefty relievers out of the major league bullpen. Making an impact is first about getting the opportunity to do that. - DTFlush234
Brian Walton (16): Perhaps I was a year early on supporting Freeman last winter, when he was 15th on my list. Here we are a year later, and Freeman is roughly at the same spot in my rankings. Either I was ahead of matters or perhaps I did not see the lefty making the leaps and bounds that my colleague suggests. Maybe it is some of both.
While I agree that Freeman had a nice summer at Memphis, the reality to me is the bottom line. Despite precious little Triple-A experience and being two years younger, Siegrist shot past Freeman and grabbed the spot in St. Louis that many thought Freeman would earn.
In terms of his Triple-A stats, Freeman's hit and walk rates were almost identical from 2012 to 2013. His strikeouts were up slightly, but his year-to-year ERA grew by nearly a run (2.08 in 2012 to 2.97 in 2013). Freeman's actual numeric improvements were most evident during his brief time with St. Louis, where he showed he can do the job. By then, Siegrist was established, however, and Freeman was blocked.
Last winter at this time, I correctly pegged that incumbent left-hander Marc Rzepczynski was on thin ice. I don't see the same likelihood of an opportunity-creating implosion on the horizon for 2014, though.
In other words, the path is now even more crowded than before. Siegrist appears secure as a major leaguer and Choate still has two years remaining on his original three-year (!) contract signed last winter.
Freeman will turn 27 years of age in June. The good news for the Cardinals is that he still has an option year remaining. That means he can continue to work on his pitching in Memphis and hope an injury-related opening occurs.
Freeman had best not rest on his laurels, however. Other left-handers are coming up fast, particularly Lee Stoppelman. Then we have the still-uncertain John Gast, Arizona Fall League hurlers Dean Kiekhefer and Anthony Ferrara plus more getting ready to join the ever-crowded scrum.
Bottom line, this is probably Freeman's final appearance on this prospect list, one way or the other.
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