Prospect Grades: Freeman, Olson

Another snowy Monday morning, but baseball will be here before you know it. We’re winding down the grades here, just a few more to go. Once I finish, I’m going to do some possible grade revisions, as well as go back and cover anyone I may have missed. So again, if you’ve been reading, or if you haven’t, check out all the prospect grades and let me know who I may have passed over.

Freeman, Jarrod, RHP (age 19) Grade = B

Freeman, the Phillies 11th round pick in June, had a very impressive display, and is one of those guys I’m really excited to watch in 2007. Equipped with a near perfect projectable pitching frame (say that 5 times fast), he’s already 6’3, 195 lbs and just turned 19 in November. As with most young pitchers, he’s much more projection and speculation than substance, but for his debut, he pitched very well. In 45.1 IP in the GCL, he posted a 3.38 ERA, allowing 47 hits and only 5 walks to his 37 strikeouts. His fastball was registering in the low 90’s, and he also features a good curveball and an advanced changeup, considering his age.

2007 Outlook: Because he didn’t pitch in a baseball hotbed (Utah), and because he is only 19 and still growing, the Phillies will probably be cautious with him, keeping him in extended spring training and then sending him for a repeat of the GCL or possibly to short season Williamsport.

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Olson, Matt, RHP (age 20) Grade = B-

Olson, in his repeat of the GCL, showed an improvement in his already solid command, and also allowed fewer hits per 9, despite posting a higher ERA than in his 2005 debut. A 13th round draft pick in 2005, he showed solid progress this season, despite seeing his K/9 rate dip a bit from it’s already low 5.93 in 2005 to 4.57 in 2006. However, this isn’t uncommon for raw high school kids learning how to pitch as opposed to just throwing. Olson has a large 6’4, 200lb frame, and could add a bit more velocity as he continues to grow. His control is good, his hit rate dropped, but he needs to start setting up hitters and finishing them off, but that will probably come with him improving his secondary stuff and developing his curve into a true out pitch.

2007 Outlook: Olson is still learning how to pitch as opposed to throw. His fastball already sits in the low 90’s and could actually improve as he continues to add muscle to his frame. He may eventually become a reliever full time, and his power arsenal would certainly fit, but the Phillies will probably resist that temptation until his secondary pitches prove they can’t develop. After two seasons in the GCL, he’ll probably start the season in Williamsport.