Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman feels great about the strength of his left wrist; strength he believes he lacked at the end of last season. Mark Bowman of MLB.com wrote a detailed article that includes plenty of confident words from Freeman, who told reporters he began hitting earlier than he usually does, and even took batting practice in 25-degree whether just to see if he experienced any pain. “I have had zero problems.” Freeman said. “Everything feels great and everything feels strong.” Though he doesn’t regret coming back early after being hit by a pitch in May, Freeman experienced some frustration when his wrist fatigued during August and September. Notably, the two-time All-Star also had Lasik surgery to help alleviate some eye irritation issues he experienced while wearing contact lenses. Freeman also expressed his excitement to see top prospect Ronald Acuna arrive at the MLB level.
Some other interesting items from around MLB as we near the end of January…
- Count Rick Porcello among those in the Red Sox organization who are excited about working with new pitching coach Dana LeVangie. A piece by Tim Britton of the Providence Journal gives some insight into a phone call between the two earlier in the offseason. “A couple of days after he got the pitching coach job, he called me and we talked for an hour on things he had mapped out for me coming into the season that I need to work on and get better with,” Porcello told reporters last week. Indeed, it seems as though relievers Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel have already had a great experience working with him during his time as the team’s bullpen coach. As for LeVangie, he says his time as the Red Sox’ bullpen catcher allowed him to get a feel for movement and spin rate of pitches, as well as identify specifics of a pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses.
- The pursuit of financial security causes a handful of players to give up MLB 40-man roster spots every year in order to pursue opportunities in the NPB and the KBO, writes Kyle Glaser of Baseball America. Glaser tells the short version of Seth Frankoff’s story, though he’s just one of more than 100 ex-major or minor leaguers who played in Asian baseball leagues in 2017. While minor-league players on a 40-man roster earn just over $40K per year, players can make nearly 20 times that amount playing overseas. Other benefits of playing in the NPB and KBO include luxury apartments for foreign players, exceedingly high energy levels from people in the crowd, and a potential path back to the majors if they can improve their skill sets.
- Zach Crizer of MLB.com lists right-handers Danny Salazar (Indians) and Jake Odorizzi (Rays), and left-hander Ariel Miranda (Mariners) as pitchers with the potential to reach “ace” status in 2018. Crizer uses some incredibly specific stats to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these three pitchers, showing a potential path to a breakout for each one. The piece includes videos and heat maps as well; it’s an intriguing read, particularly considering that Salazar and Odorizzi have been mentioned in trade rumors.