CLEVELAND – The present and future pieces of the Indians’ organization merged for a Kodak moment on Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Francisco Lindor and Tyler Freeman just might form a middle-infield tandem further down the road.
The Indians signed Freeman (comp round B) to an $816,500 contract according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the slot value for the 71st overall pick in the 2017 First-Year Player Draft. The 18-year-old infielder is a product of Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
“We felt like he still has upside left at shortstop,” said Brad Grant, the Tribe’s director of amateur scouting. “We can continue to get him better there and continue to advance him there. I think the thing that obviously stands out, though, is the bat. That’s the top thing that stands out.”
Freeman batted .526 (51-for-97) with eight doubles, four triples, four home runs, 36 RBIs and 35 runs in 30 games this year. Not only was his batting average the best in the state of California, but he also landed a 2017 Rawlings-Perfect Game 1st Team All-American selection and Baseline League MVP award.
“An unbelievable offensive-oriented player,” Grant said. “He brings a lot of offensive tools to the game. He’s going to be out and be able to hit and then power should come in the future.”
There was no shortage of success this spring when Freeman spearheaded his prep program to a 27-3 record and CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Southern Section Division 2 title. Along the way, he developed a rapport with Grant and the Cleveland scouting department.
“We’ve spent a lot of time with [Freeman],” said Grant. “We put our time down into this [second-round] range, and I think the relationships we built with [him] really shined through and we’re definitely excited to be able to have [him].”
Scouting reports detail Freeman as a high contact, line-drive hitter who could develop power in the minor leagues. His defensive range coupled with the blistering bat make him comparable to players like Michael Young and Mark DeRosa.
“We’re going to start him off at shortstop and let him play there,” said Grant. “We look forward to getting him out and into our system.”
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.