In only his second full season, Freddie Freeman has already established himself as one of the best first base prospects in baseball. After putting up superb numbers at High-A in 2009, a subsequent promotion to Double-A came with a nagging wrist injury that severely sapped his power. Freeman was sent to the Arizona Fall League as a 19-year-old, but a hyper-extended elbow has limited his playing time there.
I met up with Freeman at the Arizona Fall League and discussed the extent of his injuries, the possibility of facing Stephen Strasburg and life as Jason Heyward's roommate.
Brett Sullivan: So I heard you talking a little bit with Frank Wren about your wrist injury earlier this year.
Freddie Freeman: Yeah.BS: Could you go into that in a little bit of detail?
FF: I hurt it in the first week of August, and it just started to hurt when I was warming up for a game -- on top of my hand, in between my thumb and my index finger (points to left hand) -- and I compensated for that, I couldn't drive with my top hand so I started clenching my wrist a little bit and all this became inflamed, and I just couldn't pick up a bat anymore so I got a couple cortisone shots and they shut me down the rest of the year.
BS: So what did that specifically affect?
FF: It affected my swing, I couldn't drive with my top hand so every time I came to hit contact (rolls top hand over) and I couldn't catch up to fastballs.
BS: So it completely affected your power.
FF: Yeah, everything
BS: I heard you have an elbow that's bothering you right now, could you go into that a little bit.
FF: Yeah, I got an injury right now that every time I swing, I seem to hyperextend my elbow, and I can't swing because if I do it the pain is just so intense, I can't do it.
BS: And that's on your right arm?
FF: It's on my right arm -- my lead arm -- so if I get out in front of a pitch I hyperextend everything and I just can't stop.
BS: Did that start from swinging?
FF: It started from swinging -- I do it usually like once a month, but I did it three times in less than a week and the pain just got to be too much and right now I'm just trying to get back and see how it feels on Monday, see if I can play the last couple of games.
BS: Yeah, I know this experience hasn't exactly been what you planned, but what did you expect when you came out to the Arizona Fall League?
FF: You know, you always expect that you want to do well. You look at the players and see all these guys, just like Steve Strasburg today, you get to see guys that you haven't seen in a year and it's just fun to watch players play and see how good these guys are.
BS: Speaking of Strasburg, hopefully you're gonna see him in a few times the majors one day, are you excited about that?
FF: I'm excited to face him, I wanna see it. You know, if a guy has that much hype and everything you always just want to see him and see how it is. I mean, you're gonna see it today from the side angle, but it's not the same when you're in the box.
BS: I could imagine so.
FF: You know, if we ever get the chance to face each other, it's gonna be fun. It will be something you always remember.
BS: I'm sure it will happen. So, how would you consider the Saguaros clubhouse in comparison to Myrtle Beach or something like that?
FF: All the clubhouses are fun, it's just a bunch of guys, you meet new guys, it's always fun. You just try and have as much fun as you can in the short amount of time you got out here, and its been a blast so far.
BS: That's great. I know you haven't gotten the chance to play as much as you'd like but, you're one of the younger players in the league, have you picked up anything from some of the guys who have more pro experience than you?
FF: Well, you know, I have a pretty good mind of what goes on so if I have a question I'll ask. Usually a guy like Chris Heisey or somebody like that, a guy that's been around a little bit longer than me. I really don't have that much questions because I try and do it myself and make myself better. You know, you have to ask questions, you have to. And I ask my questions that I need to ask and I try to pick up on things myself so I can do it better for myself. But if I have questions, I definitely go for the older guys.
BS: How about Yonder Alonso, he's another great first base prospect like yourself, has he showed you anything in particular?
FF: Not really, we just became friends and we just try to stay close. We exchanged numbers, you know, and just stay in touch throughout the years that we play each other.
BS: It's pretty cool to have a first baseman that's left-handed and as good of a hitter as he, you know, the complete package, that's pretty sweet to have a guy like that on you're team.
FF: Yeah it is nice, you definitely can if you got something to say or ask, you can ask him. He's almost about the same hitter so it's nice to have another guy like that.
BS: I know Jason (Heyward) is not here right now but you're obviously good friends with him. What makes him such an outstanding prospect in your eyes, you've seen him more than most players.
FF: Well, he definitely is a five-tool player. He can run, he can throw, he can field, he can hit, hit for average too so he's one of those freaks, you know. In a good way. He's one of a kind. You don't run across those people very often, and it's just fun to watch him play.
BS: It must be pretty special having a guy that you could come up with, the same age, all through the same levels together.
FF: It is nice, you know, I first met him when we were in Aflaac, the All American game, and we were friends then and also we get drafted by the same team which we didn't think would ever happen, but ever since then we just talk swings to each other and just talk baseball, and talk anything. We've just become really good friends and no matter what he is we can talk about it, it's just awesome.
BS: Yeah, and another left-handed hitter like yourself so you guys have a lot of similarities too.
FF: Yeah, it's easy to ask him questions, you know, it really is. And he has a great baseball mind so you can really run through things with him.
BS: Do you guys do a lot of hanging out outside of baseball?
FF: Oh yeah. Well, we are roommates, we live together everywhere, so we eat together, we do pretty much everything together, so its been a fun time.
BS: I heard you talking with Frank Wren about his new place, sorry for eavesdropping. How's that, finally got his own place now?
FF: Yeah he's got a nice place, it's in Atlanta. So he finally moved out and it's a real nice place.
BS: How about you, you live with him?
FF: I don't live with him, I still live in California so I stay close to home. So whenever I get that chance if I move there, I'll probably move in with him or get a new place.
BS: Sweet. Well I appreciate the comments, thanks a lot. Nice meeting you. Good luck.