Freese(r) Burn

Acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason, in a trade that sent outfielder Jim Edmonds and $2 million to the Padres, David Freese skipped playing Double-A ball and reported directly to Triple-A Memphis to start the 2008 campaign. Eighteen games into the season, Freese is leading his team in several offensive categories and playing solid defense.

Scouts have always loved his above average power, bat speed, and strike zone judgment, though there was some concern about his defense and the ability to play third. Those concerns appear to be unfounded, after he topped all qualifying third baseman in the California League with a .958 fielding percentage and led the league with 310 total chances and 238 assists.

He has shown solid-average range, hands and motion at third base, I would compare to Cardinals current third baseman, Troy Glaus.

Freese turned in a solid season at High-A Lake Elsinore last year (.302/.400/.489 with 17 homers and 96 RBI), but the critics of the Edmonds deal would argue that, that was as a 24-year-old in a low-level league that traditionally favors hitters.

The bottom line is, he ranked third in the league with 104 runs scored and 69 walks, while his 246 total bases were fifth-most in the league, those are impressive numbers, at any age.

Despite his success, Freese's path in San Diego was blocked at third base by Kevin Kouzmanoff and their top prospect Chase Headley. Before trading Freese to St. Louis, the Padres considered converting Freese to a catcher in the offseason. He spent time as a backstop in the instructional league, where he showed solid blocking skills and a plus arm at times.

It's not likely that the Cardinals would consider moving Freese from third base to catcher, basically because it would take at least a full season behind the plate for Freese to learn the basics of new trade. The fact that he's playing third base at the Triple-A level with some distinction, makes a decision like thatl even more improbable.

Freese split his first professional season between Short-A Eugene and Single-A Fort Wayne. He batted .317 (83-for-262) with 21 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs and 70 RBI in 71 Games. Even though he had never played a game above High-A ball, the St. Louis Cardinals assigned Freese to Triple-A Memphis, skipping the anticipated assignment to Double-A Springfield.

Freese has responded to the challenge at Memphis, by playing a solid game at third, and quietly leading the club through its first 18 games in; home runs (3), multi-hit games (8), extra-base hits (7), total bases (32), runs scored (11), before making some noise last Wednesday, hitting two home runs, including one that was hit an estimated 457-feet after hitting the YMCA located beyond the left-centerfield wall.

Freese was ranked 10th in the San Diego Padres minor leagues by MadFriars.com, the Padres Scout.com site. Upon his arrival in St. Louis, he was ranked by the Birdhouse at #13a, in the 2008 Top 40 Prospect Rankings for the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

His rankings at these Scout.com sites, is high praise from the minor league pundits and scribes, but if you were to asked 100 St. Louis Cardinal fans, who did they get in return for Jim Edmonds in the trade with San Diego, the odds are, 95% of the fans couldn't give you the correct answer. That is likely going to change, if Freese continues to play like he has through the Redbird's first 18 games and hitting 400+ feet home runs.

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