Fantasy Baseball: Freddie Freeman 2011 Sleeper?

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 01: Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves warms up at first base against the New York Mets at Turner Field on September 1 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I was reading some comments to an article posted on Talkingchop, SB Nation's Atlanta Braves site, and it appears most Braves fans are pretty high on first base prospect Freddie Freeman, who apparently is being handed the first base job in 2011.

The reason for the post was to respond to what Kevin Goldstein had written about Freeman in his Monday Ten Pack over at Baseball Prospectus:

Atlanta isn't even pretending Freeman has competition for this job. He's not in the class of Jason Heyward, but he might be close.

Close to Heyward? I seriously doubt that, but its comments like this that jade fans thinking about a player. I have been guilty of it plenty of times. Some prospect experts, namely ESPN's Keith Law, question Freeman's power potential at the big league level. He had a wonderful season at AAA Gwinnett in 2010, hitting .319-.378-.521 with 18 HRs and 87 RBIs. Some Braves fans seem to think that since he tore up AAA he is ready for the big leagues, that he will hit for more power in the big leagues as he matures.

Now let me compare him to another first baseman who tore up AAA and we were told his power would develop in the big leagues. Here are this player's stats in AAA, albeit as a 22 year old (Freeman is 20):

Player X hit .380-.426-.546 with 8 HRs, 67 RBIs and 33 doubles, 34-32 K/BB rate

Freeman hit .319-.378-.521 with 18 HRs, 87 RBIs and 35 doubles, 84-43 K/BB rate

Player X is Dodgers first baseman James Loney. He has yet to hit more than 15 HRs in the big leagues, and his OPS has dropped each of the last 3 years down to just .723 in 2010. He has never struck out more than 95 times in any one season, and has a solid career K/BB rate of 306-203, and actually walked more than he struck out in 2009.

The Dodgers did not rush Loney as he was a pitcher in high school, and he was injured in his first year in A ball. The Braves, to me, rushed Freeman though High A and AA in his 19 year old season, yet he still hit very well as a 20 year old in AAA last year.

I can see drafting Freeman in keeper leagues, but would stay away from him in deeper re-draft leagues come draft day 2011.

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