MadFriars' Interview: Nate Freiman

LAKE ELSINORE: Nate Freiman, 24, was drafted in the eighth round by the San Diego Padres in the 2009 draft. The 6'8" Duke grad played four years with the Blue Devils leaving the school as its all time home run leader with 43 in addition to leading the team in batting average, RBIs and home runs his senior year.

Freiman is in his third year in professional baseball with the Storm after posting solid numbers in Eugene and in Fort Wayne.

Last season with the TinCaps he hit .294/.369/.457 leading the team in total bases, hits (154), extra-base hits (57) and RBIs. Frieman crushed left-handed pitching at a .347/.403/.581 and was also the league leader for first basemen in fielding percentage at .993.

We caught up with Nate at the end of July to find out how his time in the Cal League has been going.

What has been your biggest improvement from last year in Fort Wayne to this year in the Cal League?

Nate Freiman: Working with Phil [Plantier, the Storm manager and hitting coach] this year has helped me to continue the progress that I made with Tourny [Tom Tornincasa, the Fort Wayne hitting coach] last year. I've tried to have more competitive at-bats and taking swing mechanics out of it.

There were times last year and this that I have give at-bats away and I'm trying my best to not give them away.

Your manager Phil Plantier is a big fan of yours. He has talked about you becoming "quieter" at the plate. Can you expand upon that?

Nate Freiman: Playing in college with a metal bat I had more moving parts because there is bigger room for errors. When I got to Eugene with Greg Riddoch that was the first thing he addressed. Its been a work in progress and something I have continued to work with Phil on.

Fewer moving parts there is less room for errors. You have to know where your barrel is going to be.

At 6'8" you have a big strike zone. It must be a huge learning curve knowing which strikes to offer at and which to let go.

Nate Freiman: One of the philosophies this year is if we get a strike called on us that we don't agree with is to give them the strike but not the at-bat. Control what you can control. I'm going to get strikes called on me that I don't agree with or I don't want to offer at but you are not out until they get three. Anything can happen.

I read that you were recruited as a pitcher to Duke, which I can understand. But is it true they also wanted you as a catcher?

Nate Freiman: Its true. I caught in college too.

How does a guy 6'8" catch?

Nate Freiman: I caught my whole life, Little League, middle school and in high school. When I got to high school and started to get taller they began to put me on the mound. I kind of stopped catching because it was getting to be too much strain on my arm and that is when I began to play first at the end of my senior year.

You sound like a guy who misses catching?

Nate Freiman: I loved catching and if I could I would still be back there. Realistically its not an option but playing first is the next best thing.

At your height do you encourage guys if they miss too miss up?

Nate Freiman: Yeah I am more comfortable when the ball is up than when it is low. Middle infielders definitely have a tough job - throwing on the run and from different angles. I try to do the best I can to pick them up.

The guys at Fort Wayne were impressed with your power but they claim that your defense saved quite a few guys from a lot of errors last season.

Nate Freiman: I didn't have the best first half defensively but since then I've picked up more. Here David Newhan, one of the Storm coaches, have really helped me out quite a bit. If I can help anyone out it does feel great.

What is the biggest part of your game defensively that you have worked on?

Nate Freiman: Mainly just low throws and footwork. There is more footwork requirements at that position than most people realize. Its still a process and I am out there everyday.

What is the biggest thing you are trying to improve upon?

Nate Freiman: Offensively just trying to compete every time. Letting it happen instead of trying to make ti happen. Not trying to do too much; yank the ball, pull it - having a plan and allowing my swing to hit the ball where its pitched. I've gotten myself in trouble before when I don't use that approach.

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