2010 Cardinals Prospect #4 – David Freese

Can the third baseman stay out of trouble and earn an MLB starting role? Today's article is FREE!

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2009 and career stats)

2009 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Throw Signed Round
6 3B 4/28/1983 6-2 220 R R 2006 9 (SD)

School: University of South Alabama

Selected 2009 stats

GCL 0.455 11 2 5 2 0 1 6 1 3 0 0.500 0.909 1.409
SPR 0.375 16 3 6 1 0 1 5 2 2 0 0.444 0.625 1.069
MEM 0.300 200 34 60 15 0 10 37 22 51 1 0.369 0.525 0.894
Tot 0.313 227 39 71 18 0 12 48 25 56 1 0.380 0.551 0.931
MLB 0.323 31 3 10 2 0 1 7 2 7 0 0.353 0.484 0.837

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (4): Last season's Scout.com Cardinals' Minor League Player of the Year experienced an interesting 2009. He broke camp on the team's opening day roster but struggled before going on the disabled list with an ankle injury. He returned to Memphis and put together a successful campaign while helping the Redbirds to a Pacific Coast League title along the way. He returned to the big leagues in September and put together a strong finish, positioning himself for a big league job in 2010.

With no other true third baseman on the 40-man roster, Freese appears to be the favorite for the starting third base job in 2010. He possesses a strong, short stroke that produces above-average power to all fields. The hometown kid has excellent range at third to go along with soft hands and a strong arm. If his troubles are behind him, I would like to see the team go into the season with Freese at the hot corner.

Message board community (3): David Freese was the community's #3 this year, a climb from eighth last year. He received his first votes for the #2 spot. As with yesterday's Daryl Jones, Freese had injury issues this year. But Freese seems to have gotten them out of the way early. He managed only 78 AB's through the end of June, and his OPS the first two months (.536 in April, .748 in May…he didn't play in June) were not auspicious.

But down the stretch, Freese's OPS was 1.176 in July, 1.006 in August, and 1.081 in September, albeit with BABIPs of .476, .382, and .378 in those months. Against lefties, he had .438 OBP, .605 SLG. Against righties, those numbers were .351/.531. How long have we been looking for guys not named Pujols who crush lefties? (Over the last three years, Holliday's OPS is about .100 higher vs. righties than lefties.)

And Freese came up big in the Triple-A playoffs. He is supposed to be strong defensively, and there's an opening for a starting third baseman in St. Louis next year. I'd think his only real competition will be Joey "Bombs" Mather. Freese will begin next year at 26, which suggests some age issues. But he was drafted at 23, so he's progressed pretty rapidly since hitting the pros, perhaps mitigating some of the age stuff.

Freese was involved in a widely publicized DWI incident during the offseason, and there was another alcohol incident when he was in the Padres' system. I neither know the young man, nor the circumstances, but this is something to keep an eye on. Hopefully he's gotten the message. If not, after two episodes, there need to be some pretty clear consequences.

If Freese has put it behind him, I'm betting he bats second against lefties and sixth against righties this year, flipping spots with young Mr. Rasmus. He could well be the third baseman for the next several years. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (6): I am lowest ranker of the three and this was done prior to Freese's most recent off-the-field problems. The Cardinals have a clear need at his natural position and the other third base candidates shouldn't have nearly the same chance, on paper at least.

Then again, Freese was also in the driver's set to take the starting job following Troy Glaus' surprise surgery last January. Instead of putting the baseball pedal to the medal, Freese did it in his car and lost pretty much the entire season as a result. Hopefully we will be reading about him for the right reasons in 2010, as his age is such it will soon be time for him to either step up or step aside.

Our 2010 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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