The Guardians have called up infield prospect Tyler Freeman for his Major League debut and optioned infielder Ernie Clement to Triple-A Columbus in his place, per a team announcement. (Zack Meisel of The Athletic first reported that Freeman was being called up). Freeman is already on the 40-man roster, so the Guardians didn’t need to make any additional transactions to accommodate the move.
Freeman, 23, was the No. 71 overall pick back in 2017 and has long rated as one of the best prospects in the organization — if not the entire league. Baseball America, FanGraphs and MLB.com all ranked him inside the game’s top-100 minor leaguers heading into the season, although Freeman has fallen just off some of those lists on midseason updates. He still ranks seventh in their system at both BA and FanGraphs.
That’s not to say he’s had a poor year in 2022, but Freeman underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder last summer and hasn’t quite picked up where he left off with the bat. After turning in a strong .323/.370/.470 batting line in 180 plate appearances at the Double-A level last year, he’s hitting .279/.372/.364 in 340 Triple-A plate appearances this season. The six home runs he’s hit in 2022 are already a career-high, but he hasn’t been producing the other extra-base hits typically expected (seven doubles, zero triples).
Freeman, similarly to teammate Steven Kwan, was always viewed as a player with a plus hit tool and below-average power, though he’s typically been able to rack up doubles and the occasional triple. That hasn’t been the case this year, but his bat-to-ball skills have been on full display, as he’s punched out in just 9.1% of his plate appearances. Adding Freeman to a lineup that also features Kwan (8.9% strikeout rate), Jose Ramirez (9.5%), Myles Straw (14.7%) and Amed Rosario (14.9%) should only further drop Cleveland’s already MLB-low 18.6% strikeout rate.
It’s an unorthodox approach to lineup construction in today’s brand of three-true-outcome baseball, particularly given that the glut of contact comes at the expense of power. Cleveland has trotted out a mostly punchless lineup for much of the season and ranks 29th in MLB with 82 home runs as a team. Guardians hitters also don’t walk much, landing 22nd with a 7.6% walk rate, and Freeman (7.4% walk rate in Triple-A, 4.4% in Double-A last year) isn’t going to bolster their outlook in that regard. Still, Cleveland ranks 16th in the Majors in runs scored and 17th with a collective 99 wRC+, so the approach of surrounding the superhuman Ramirez with generally high-contact slashers has combined for middle-of-the-pack offensive output.
The question regarding Freeman will be one of where he slots into the lineup. He’s split his time quite evenly between the two middle infield slots this season, but the Guardians have Andres Gimenez in the midst of a breakout year at second base (Freeman’s best position) and Rosario is having a solid year at shortstop. Freeman gives Cleveland a bench upgrade over Clement (particularly with the bat), but it doesn’t appear as though there are regular at-bats to be had, barring an injury that’s yet to come to light.
Freeman could always be mixed in as a utility option, spelling Gimenez, Rosario and Ramirez on occasion while also seeing time at designated hitter in light of Franmil Reyes’ recent demotion to Triple-A Columbus. Cleveland has shielded lefty-swinging rookie Nolan Jones from facing southpaws, and first baseman Josh Naylor has floundered against lefties himself — so Freeman could add a righty bat to the mix against southpaws, giving manager Terry Francona some additional platoon scenarios. Freeman has struggled badly against lefties in Triple-A this season (.241/.339/.278), but that’s a sample of just 62 plate appearances and he’s crushed southpaws in each of his other four minor league campaigns.
The incorrect Tyler Freeman is linked
This Tyler Freeman is from Earth-2149 as opposed to the one from Earth-616. This Tyler Freeman is otherwise known as Zombie Tyler Freeman.
This is great. Cleveland said they’re committed to the youth early in the year and have remained stout on that decision. You don’t always have to make moves outside of your organization to improve. They’ve called up a ton of prospects to see what they’ve got. This might be the best collection of talent that you could reasonably expect to be called up this season.
Isn’t that what Cleveland always does? They don’t spend, so they need to use their farm.
Why shouldn’t they? Kwan has been excellent. Oscar Gonzalez and Nolan Jones have also hit well in their sample sizes so far. Konnor Pilkington has also been serviceable as the spot starter.
Why spend money just to spend money? The players on their 40-man roster are of mostly low service time players and that suggests a low payroll. Cleveland had payrolls north of $110M from 2017-19 and when it’s time to start paying players, they’ll rise to those numbers again.
Cleveland will never be big spenders but they had a respectable payroll over $100 million for 4 seasons between 2016 and 2019. They spend a bit, when they feel the time is right.
Freeman is their #3 prospect behind Espino and Nolan Jones, quite frankly. He’s a very good prospect
Nolan Jones is a top 10 overall prospect who is ranked 97 on the mlb.com list because they don’t know what they’re doing
Currently hitting .263/.353/.450 for the Guardians. But hey, Brennen Davis is #26 and better because of his raw physical “tools”
It’s always hilarious to me when I see a blue check on Twitter saying,
“X team only traded their #26 prospect for X star player!”
When in reality the prospect is a top 20 overall prospect
Superstar Prospect Wander Javier
Conveniently omitting his 30% k rate and .370 babip, I see.
I like Nolan a lot, but his isn’t a top 10 prospect. A below average defender who will project for a .230/.330/.420 slash line is exactly what I would expect a of a 50 grade prospect. I hope his raw power (you know the whole “tools” thing you just mocked) shows up in games. Could be a three true outcomes guy and an occasional all-star.
Ok, now tell me who you think are the better recent call ups. Cruz? Torkelson? Abrams? Which ones are better than Jones?
And you’re going to base this on avg exit velo or something like that
I can guarantee that in 15 years Jones will be among the top 10-15 in career WAR among the players presently on the mlb.com top 100 prospects list
Kwan also. Kwan is better than Torkelson and many of the incoming bust prospects
Haven’t seen Freeman yet, but I would imagine it will be similar
I don’t think people get how good the Guardians are at drafting and development. Miles ahead most other organizations
The epidemic these days is nobody understands what quality hitting is. Everything is “grades” based solely on “tools”
The vast probability is that Jones develops into his power and the Torkelson’s, Cruz’ and many others don’t
It’s almost guaranteed it doesn’t work out. Jones *should* develop into it
It’s no surprise at all just watching one at bat that he’s hitting what he’s hitting now
Also, the 30% K rate will come down with time. He’s a smart hitter. You can’t really teach that. The player is smart or he isn’t. Most prospects aren’t
He’ll learn to lay off pitches eventually, an ability which he’s already showing. Many prospects lack that ability entirely
Your assessment is totally unknowledgeable. Have you ever even watched a single Jones AB?
Cruz has 8 HR in 133 ABs. I think he’s growing into his power just fine.
Glad to see Freddie Freeman’s brother getting his due
Superstar Prospect Wander Javier
He is Morgan’s nephew
@Hockeyjohn- tell me a little about this kid. I know you like him. I know you know a lot about your Guardian prospects. I respect your opinion. Thanks. Hope all is well.
Freeman is one of 8 top 100 prospects that Cleveland has according to MLB Pipeline. He profiles best at 2B. He will be a high average, on base guy like Steven Kwan. Freeman will hit for a little power; he has 6 this year, but his strength is getting on base. Freeman hit over .300 in 2018, 2019, and in 2021 when he was injured, not returning until this season. Freeman has played, 2B, SS, 3B, and DH in the minor leagues. With the middle infield depth, Cleveland has had their middle infielders play multiple positions to best prepare them for future needs in Cleveland.
The future Guardian middle infield will likely include current 2B Andres Gimenez, who does not turn 24 until next month, Freeman, Bryan Rocchio , now at AA Akron, and Gabrial Arias at AAA Columbus. Freeman was a competitive B pick, 71st overall, in 2017. Rocchio was an international signee, Arias came from San Diego in the Mike Clevinger trade, and Gimenez in the Lindor trade. Freeman will be the 12th player to debut with the Guardians this season. They are using this season to find out about their young players to see who is a keeper, before the top wave comes in sometime next season.
Thanks for the kind words, Captain. I am doing ok but battling a few health issues as when does when they get older. I hope that you are doing well. Please get Gerritt Cole fixed. He is killing my fantasy team.
@hockeyjohn- smh. You might actually have to trade Gerrit Cole. I can’t believe I’m telling you that, but especially after today! Lol. Always happy to hear from you. I’m a diehard fan just like you, so I respect your thoughts, in regards to the Guardians. I wish they could spend more $ for their fans. I was asking @Indiansjoe if he was going to change his name to @Guardiansjoe he got a big laugh out of that. So that was cool! I hope your health improves, your one of the a good guys. I didn’t see it right away. I was wrong, hang in there my dear friend, and feel better. Always good to talk to you, and I’m doing well.
Captain,, I plan to bench Cole until he gets his act together. Thankfully, I have some pitching depth. As far as spending money, they have spent when they are close. They also spent more when they had a minority owner. They have just added a new minority owner who replaced John Sherman who now owns his hometown KC Royals. The problem, as I see it, is the Cleveland’s of the world just don’t have the revenue streams available that the big market teams have. That is a disadvantage that does not happen in the NFL, NBA, and NHL. Right now, Cleveland is set up very well with the youngest team in MLB, a fantastic farm system, a strong manager and front office, and a superstar in Jose Ramirez, who is just as good of leader as he is a player.
I wish people would just move on with the name change. I am not a fan of the Guardian name, but it is what it is. It could have been worse (Spiders). The name Cleveland is the most important one to me.
Thanks again for the good thoughts. Always love good baseball and other sports talk with diehard fans!!
In nurse follars
Showcasing for winter trades. Need to decide who can be traded and scouts need to see them play. Plus breaking them in during the last 54 games is better than waiting til spring
He was hitting the hell out of the ball in July with a .500 OBA but my question is where are they going to play him? It’s not going to be everyday.
Can they PLEASE bench Straw and get Kwan in CF? I can’t take it anymore. You can always get Straw into the game late when you’ve got a lead.
I agree. They are only playing Straw because they paid him.
Yes. And too much other talent to squander for Straw’s .567 OPS.
Meahwhile, the similarly-gifted Jackie Bradley Jr. has been released.
Fix that Tyler Freeman link, please. This is the correct one, I think: