The Guardians have referred to as up infield prospects Tyler Freeman for his Major League debut and optioned infielder Ernie Clement to Triple-A Columbus in his place, per a workforce announcement. (Zack Meisel of The Athletic first reported that Freeman was being referred to as up). Freeman is already on the 40-man roster, so the Guardians didn’t have to make any extra transactions to accommodate the transfer.
Freeman, 23, was the No. 71 total choose again in 2017 and has lengthy been rated as probably the greatest prospects within the group — if not your complete league. Baseball America, FanGraphs and MLB.com all ranked him inside the sport’s high-100 minor leaguers heading into the season, though Freeman has fallen simply off a few of these lists on midseason updates. He nonetheless ranks seventh of their system at each BA and FanGraphs.
That’s to not say he is had a poor 12 months in 2022, however Freeman underwent surgical procedure to restore a torn labrum in his shoulder final summer season and hasn’t fairly picked up the place he left off with the bat. After handing over a powerful .323/.370/.470 batting line in 180 plate appearances on the Double-A degree final 12 months, he is hitting .279/.372/.364 in 340 Triple-A plate appearances this season. The six house runs he is hit in 2022 are already a profession-excessive, however he hasn’t been producing the opposite additional-base hits sometimes anticipated (seven doubles, zero triples).
Freeman, equally to teammate Steven Kwan, was at all times considered as a participant with a plus hit instrument and beneath-common energy, though he is sometimes been capable of rack up doubles and the occasional triple. That hasn’t been the case this 12 months, however his bat-to-ball abilities have been on full show, as he is punched out in simply 9.1% of his plate appearances. Adding Freeman to a lineup that additionally options Kwan (8.9% strikeout charge), Jose Ramirez (9.5%), Myles Straw (14.7%) Ms Amed Rosario (14.9%) ought to solely additional drop Cleveland’s already MLB-low 18.6% strikeout charge.
It’s an unorthodox strategy to lineup building in at the moment’s model of three-true-final result baseball, notably provided that the glut of contact comes on the expense of energy. Cleveland has trotted out a largely punchless lineup for a lot of the season and ranks twenty ninth in MLB with 82 house runs as a workforce. Guardians hitters additionally do not stroll a lot, touchdown twenty second with a 7.6% stroll charge, and Freeman (7.4% stroll charge in Triple-A, 4.4% in Double-A final 12 months) is not going to bolster their outlook in that regard . Still, Cleveland ranks sixteenth within the Majors in runs scored and seventeenth with a collective 99 wRC+, so the strategy of surrounding the superhuman Ramirez with usually excessive-contact slashers has mixed for center-of-the-pack offensive output.
The query concerning Freeman shall be one in all the place he slots into the lineup. He’s break up his time fairly evenly between the 2 center infield slots this season, however the Guardians have Andres Gimenez within the midst of a breakout 12 months at second base (Freeman’s greatest place) and Rosario is having a strong 12 months at shortstop. Freeman offers Cleveland a bench improve over Clement (notably with the bat), however it would not seem as if there are common at-bats available, barring an damage that is but to come back to gentle.
Freeman might at all times be blended in as a utility choice, spelling Gimenez, Rosario and Ramirez from time to time whereas additionally seeing time at designated hitter in gentle of Franmil Reyes‘ current demotion to Triple-A Columbus. Cleveland has shielded the lefty-swinging rookie Nolan Jones from dealing with southpaws, and first baseman Josh Naylor has floundered in opposition to lefties himself — so Freeman might add a righty bat to the combo in opposition to southpaws, giving supervisor Terry Francona some extra platoon situations. Freeman has struggled badly in opposition to lefties in Triple-A this season (.241/.339/.278), however that is a pattern of simply 62 plate appearances and he is crushed southpaws in every of his different 4 minor league campaigns.