ESPN’s Law: High on the Braves, less so on Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman: Is the new first sacker a first-tier prospect? (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Freddie Freeman: Is the rookie first sacker a first-tier prospect? (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

It’s fair to say Keith Law of ESPN Insider has become the Mel Kiper of baseball: Law is knowledgeable and, owing to his affiliation with the Worldwide Leader, eminently visible. When Law speaks, you might not agree — but you do pay attention.

In his annual preseason prospect rankings (all these links requires registration), Law has four Braves in his top 50. He also ranks the Braves’ minor-league organization as baseball’s third-best, trailing only Kansas City, which is overseen by Braves alum Dayton Moore, and Tampa Bay. These are, you’d have to say, glad tidings. Except …

Law isn’t quite as high on Freddie Freeman as the Braves seem to be. He rates Freeman the 43rd-best prospect in baseball, which sounds a bit low given that a 91-win playoff qualifier has made him its everyday first baseman. Writes Law:

Freeman keeps performing even though he is young for his levels and doesn’t possess any plus tools to get you excited … He’s an above-average [defensive] first baseman and is ready to step in now as Atlanta’s first baseman, so the lack of ceiling is mitigated by the fact he can provide value right away.

Me, I’d call that an endorsement but not a rave. (Let the record reflect that Law was raving about Jason Heyward, his No. 1 overall prospect, this time last year.) And it’s also curious that Craig Kimbrel, who could be the new closer, doesn’t crack Law’s top 100. Kimbrel is sixth among Law’s top 10 Braves prospects, behind Julio Teheran (No. 6 overall), Freeman, Arodys Vizcaino (No. 47), Randall Delgado (No. 50) and Mike Minor (No. 61).

One other note: According to Law, Freeman is the only non-pitcher among the Braves’ top seven prospects. Shortstops Matt Lipka and Edward Salcedo are eighth and ninth on Law’s list; catcher Cristian Bethancourt is 10th. The good news is that baseball is mostly about pitching. The less-good news is that there’s not a lot of positional help at the ready.

For purposes of comparison, Baseball America ranks the Braves’ top 10 prospects thusly:

Craig Kimbrel: Ready to close up? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Craig Kimbrel: New closer? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

  1. Teheran
  2. Freeman
  3. Delgado
  4. Minor
  5. Kimbrel
  6. Lipka
  7. Vizcaino
  8. Brandon Beachy, RHP
  9. Brett Oberholtzer, LHP
  10. J.J. Hoover, RHP

By Mark Bradley

198 comments Add your comment

Fish Bisch

January 28th, 2011
10:28 am

JohnBRAVESfan

January 28th, 2011
10:28 am

That sucks, I love Freddie. GO BRAVES

Fish Bisch

January 28th, 2011
10:29 am

Chipper Jones should retire.

Mark Bradley

January 28th, 2011
10:29 am

Jamaaliver

January 28th, 2011
10:34 am

I guess having an overabundance of young pitching talent isn’t a bad thing. But getting top flight hitters ala Heyward, Pujols, etc takes drafting and developing the right positional players.

But at least the ol’ war chest is stocked for potential trades. (Which are inevitable for alot of these players since they all, essentially, play the same position.)

What??

January 28th, 2011
10:35 am

Why does it suck? Just because Law says it doesn’t mean that it’s so. I’m not saying Freddy will be a worldbeater, but Law’s opinion will have very little to do with his actual success.

What??

January 28th, 2011
10:36 am

Also, people are always willing to trade good position players for pitching, so I’d rather have an over abundance of pitching. That way you can trade for whatever holes you may have in the future.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

January 28th, 2011
10:39 am

another mel kiper Great ! (sarcasm)

Kenbud

January 28th, 2011
10:39 am

Doesn’t suck. That’s being reasonable. The kid is a rookie! This guy is keeping his expectations at a normal level, unlike most Braves fan and media. Mark, you’re correct. It’s an endorsement, not a rave. And there’s NOTHING wrong with that.

Gary

January 28th, 2011
10:39 am

Funny….MLB Network did a top 50 prospects the other night and Freeman was in the top 20. John Hart, former Cleveland and Texas GM and MLB writer Jonathan Mayo were both very high on Freeman and praised his glove and his hitting prowess to use the whole field. Mayo and Hart also agreed that some of those high number of doubles he hits currently will turn into home runs as his grows more strength.

I know a lot of people like Keith Law and use his opinion as the end all, be all. However, I will take the opinion of someone like Hart who has built a reputation on scouting and development and what he sees in a player over that of Keith Law.

ESPN Hater in Studio 42

January 28th, 2011
10:45 am

Why does anyone still bother to get their baseball coverage from the “Obama Apologist” network known as ESPN when we now have the politics-free MLB Network?

Do you really think Jackie Robinson would rather watch ESPN rather than MLB Network?

(By the way, unlike MLB Network, ESPN has never named any of its studios or programming after a better man than you or me like Jackie Robinson.)

DeepDiver

January 28th, 2011
10:47 am

Freddie got Freemaned.

TruthSeeker

January 28th, 2011
10:50 am

Being ranked the 43rd-ranked prospect in all of baseball is nothing to scoff at. I’m not sure I agree with Law that Freeman has a low ceiling though. I could see him growing into a big-time power hitter.

Herschel Talker

January 28th, 2011
10:59 am

MB:

Now that Bobby the idiot is gone, we will win the World Series this year.

HT

EW

January 28th, 2011
10:59 am

Sounds about par for the course for the Braves. Build around pitching and HOPE something good happens on Offense.

Jamaaliver

January 28th, 2011
11:00 am

@What?

You’re right, teams are willing to trade GOOD positional players for pitching. But rarely do teams trade GREAT hitters for anything. (Unless their hands are forced.)

If we want another Chipper to pair with McCann and Heyward, we have to do a better job drafting positional players.

jack bauer

January 28th, 2011
11:01 am

Freddie has a whole in his swing. That’s why he spent 90% of the year at Gwinnett. Big league pitchers will exploit that weakness as you saw late last year. He is more than an above averagve 1b though. Cannizares needs to make this team as a RH bat off the bench and to spell Freeman if he struggles.

[...] ESPN's Law: High on the Braves, less so on Freddie FreemanAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)He also ranks the Braves' minor-league organization as baseball's third-best, trailing only Kansas City, which is overseen by Braves alum Dayton Moore, …and more » [...]

PMC

January 28th, 2011
11:02 am

Pretty fair assessment by Law. It’s not like he beat him up. He just said that he wasn’t going to be Mark Texiera.

[...] ESPN's Law: High on the Braves, less so on Freddie FreemanAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)He also ranks the Braves' minor-league organization as baseball's third-best, trailing only Kansas City, which is overseen by Braves alum Dayton Moore, …and more » [...]

SimpleDawg

January 28th, 2011
11:07 am

Idiots calling for Chipper’s retirement before the end of spring training are…….idiots.

E's Dirty Bird's

January 28th, 2011
11:12 am

I am still afraid that Heyward is way too streaky of a hitter to ever become a great player. I just don’t see the greatness in him that everyone else does. He was a complete flop in the postseason and he is way too patient in his hit selection. He gets behind in the count far too frequently and he strikes out far too oftenly! Hopefully, he will devlop that killer instinct that all great hitters have.

Ted M

January 28th, 2011
11:13 am

I’m looking forward to the end of the Cox era too.

wdm

January 28th, 2011
11:13 am

Mark Richt scores again. Mark Bradley, the never was and never will be, continues to look like the loser he is for his hate mongering against Coach Mark Richt. Mark Richt has one question for the constant loser Mark Bradley…how do you like me now?

JRS

January 28th, 2011
11:14 am

Yeah, his first homerun was off of Roy Halladay! Nothing to scoff at!

JRS

January 28th, 2011
11:16 am

Mark, do you really hate Atlanta sports or are you just always negative?

Larry A

January 28th, 2011
11:16 am

The beautiful thing about baseball. No one ever has enough pitching so pitching can be traded for bats in a crunch… So being short on bats in the minor leagues really is not something to be too concerned about. I would much prefer to see a minor league system stacked with top pitchers than a bunch of great hitters.

George

January 28th, 2011
11:19 am

Wil the Bobby bashers ever move on?

bill

January 28th, 2011
11:28 am

a rookie in center and a rookie at first. new blood will help the Braves mentally. We Bobby bashers will quit bashing that dumba** when Leyritz homer comes back down. Thats my only complaint because HE lost that series singlehandedly in a two minute brain dead nap. I think he thought the Series was over a little early.

DHD

January 28th, 2011
11:30 am

He’s not the law.

[...] ESPN's Law: High on the Braves, less so on Freddie FreemanAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)He also ranks the Braves' minor-league organization as baseball's third-best, trailing only Kansas City, which is overseen by Braves alum Dayton Moore, …and more » [...]

justin1

January 28th, 2011
11:34 am

1. Schaefer 2. Prado 3. Chipper 4. Uggla 5. Mac 6. Heyward 7. Freeman 8. Gonzo……it will be a nice year.

timbo

January 28th, 2011
11:38 am

The Braves are in the process of re-loading. Lets give Freeman a chance at 1st and see what he does for a full season. Heyward got tired at the end of the season, and maybe a little dinged up. I don’t put to much faith in what these folks that have never picked up a glove say. Looking forward to the beginning of the Gonzo days at the Ted. This team will have it’s ups and downs this season, but in 2-3 years, watch out. The Braves, Marlins, and Nationals will be the new teams to watch real soon.

justin1

January 28th, 2011
11:38 am

Jammaliver………I KNOW you didnt just link Heyward with Pujols. I love what Heyward is bringing to the table, but he will never be an Albert Pujols.

Dwayne

January 28th, 2011
11:41 am

George….never, Bobby was a joke of a manager, regardless of his over all record. One WS, that says it all.

Matt

January 28th, 2011
11:45 am

Freeman did nothing but produce all through the minor leagues. There has been absolutely no evidence that Freeman won’t continue being a hitting machine.

Heisenberg

January 28th, 2011
11:45 am

Considering that within 2 years the contracts of Lowe & Hudson will be up and the BorASS clients of Hansen & JJ will be arbitration elgible and probably gone as free agents if not traded before then, the surplus of pitching prospects is not only a good thing…but necessary.

If Medlen is ready by trading deadline and Yanks are still desperate for pitching, I could see Lowe being moved this summer.

Matt

January 28th, 2011
11:47 am

How can you not be high on a 21 yr old kid that throws almost 100 mph as a closer?!?!?

Puma

January 28th, 2011
11:47 am

“so the lack of ceiling is mitigated by the fact he can provide value right away.”

This statement makes no sense…lack of ceiling means no ceiling = unlimited potential (which isn’t what I think he means to say). And then how can unlimited potential be mitigated by immediate value. That all sounds win-win to me. I am just saying.

Like someone else said on here, Freeman is no Texeira, but he will probably hit 270, give you 20-25 HRs, 80-90 RBIs and good D and I will take that in a heart beat.

Heisenberg

January 28th, 2011
11:47 am

BTW, the bar has been set quite low at 1B. So Freeman should not have much of a problem meeting or exceeding it.

[...] ESPN's Law: document.write(unescape('%48%69%67%68')); on the Braves,… [...]

Mark Bradley

January 28th, 2011
11:48 am

Can’t have too much pitching: Ever heard that one?

Well, it’s true. You can’t.

timbo

January 28th, 2011
11:49 am

Don’t forget about that Beachy kid. He came up late in the year, and no one had ever heard about him. He did real well down the stretch. Looking forward to maybe seeing him this year at Gwinnett,

joltenbees

January 28th, 2011
11:53 am

E’s dirty bird- heyward was a rookie last year at the age of 20! 20 year old hitters are usually in high a ball or doulble a. You have nothing to worry about with heyward.

Law also ranks players based on potential rather than combining potential with mlb readiness. Freeman was amazing in triple a last year playing as the second youngest position player. I think law has completely undervalued him.

timbo

January 28th, 2011
11:54 am

I will say this for Freeman, he does have a nice swing, and he is aggressive at the plate.

GSU Eagle 91

January 28th, 2011
11:55 am

Big Chipper fan is what I would call myself….That being said…
I believe he will give the Braves 100 games, a .260 avg, 15 HR, and 55 RBI’s…all for 15 + million dollars…Wow…not a good trade off…
I HOPE I am wrong, but I doubt it….We need some pop in the line-up but it will not be seen on the field this year.

timbo

January 28th, 2011
11:58 am

MB, what is the status of Chipper’s rehab? How is he doing?

The Rock

January 28th, 2011
11:58 am

I will have to say bull pokey.The same experts predicted that the braves may have wasted a first round pick when they selected Mike Minor just a few years ago.And guess who they now have listed as one of the best prospects?You guessed it,Mike Minor

braveslover

January 28th, 2011
11:58 am

Saw Freeman a couple of times and he reminds me of another “can’t miss”, “unlimited ceiling” player named Brad Komminsk. Why can’t we get some players who can whoomp the devil out of the ball? I appreciate good pitching as much as anyone, but seeing the ball flying around the yard from Braves bats will put me in the stands.

Freshmaker

January 28th, 2011
12:03 pm

@Timbo: Chipper’s doing well. He’s been taking batting practice and, last I read, is on schedule with his rehab. He should be ready to go in spring training.