Twins Draft Preview: Kyle Freeland
by, 05-27-2014 at 04:58 AM (431 Views)
In his most recent mock draft, Jim Callis of MLBPipeline.com had the Twins taking Tyler Kolek at the fifth spot, but among the other candidates he listed the Twins might be looking at he included Kyle Freeland.
Who is this guy?
Coming out of a Denver, CO high school in 2011, Freeland was drafted in the 35th round by the Philadelphia Phillies, but did not sign and headed to play baseball at a Division-I school, the University of Evansville. Kyle Freeland has matured into dominating 6'4" lefty and he recently led the Purple Aces to a Missouri Valley regular season conference title.
Freeland started 14 games in each of his three college seasons, and pitched between 91.0 and 99.2 innings. His freshman and sophomore seasons he fared well for a young kid starting in a mid-major conference, but he never really put things together until his junior. Coming into the 2014 season, Freeland had a strong strike out to walk rate, 154/48 (3.2 to 1), but this year he struck out more than a batter an inning (128 in just 99.2 innings) and increased his strikeout to walk rate to 10.6 to 1!
Why the Twins will pick him:
In a recent Game Report from Baseball America, Clint Longenecker described all of Freeland's offerings as above-average, with a plus slider and fastball. Freeland has a fastball that sits 90-92, but he can ramp it up to the mid-90s when he needs it, and with the impeccable command he has, he can put the baseball where ever he wants it. His changeup is improving, and is still a plus offering in the mid-80s, and his slider comes in anywhere from high-70s to the mid-80s keeping hitters off balance with both velocity and movement.
Most of all, what the Twins like about Freeland is his ability to throw strikes. Freeland threw more than 70% strikes in 2014, and a couple of outings this past season threw more than 80% strikes. With that kind of control, the Twins would be selecting a strike throwing machine, which they have historically valued, but also a player with elite offerings from all of his pitches and the ability to get hitters out from both sides of the plate.
Freeland only turned 21 about a week and a half ago, making him one of the younger college arms in the draft. The Twins were not afraid, two years ago, to draft one of the older high school players in the draft in Byron Buxton, but certainly any time they have an opportunity to draft a younger player, that makes the player a little more attractive.
Why the Twins will not pick him:
Throwing tons of strikes has worked for Freeland in college, especially in an overmatched Missouri Valley Conference schedule, but at the MLB level, hitters, for the most part, are going to be able to hit strikes. Freeland will likely have to change his strategy against a higher level of opponent.
There is some concern regarding Freeland's high-effort delivery, which "leaves him spinning toward third base," according to Baseball America. Freeland's arm slot, which sometimes comes in a little below three-quarters, is also a concern.
Ultimately, the Twins will not pick Freeland because he is not one of the five best players in the draft, and the Twins have consistently taken the best player available at their draft slot, and Freeland falls just a tick outside the top five.