Strong pitching and clutch hitting continue to drive the hot start for the Astros Double-A Hooks.
The team as a whole is pitching to a 4.26 ERA. Even with a few players throwing off the overall average. Even with the lowest overall average in the Astros’ Texas League, the Hooks still find themselves in first place after 20 games. Some of this hot start can be attributed to lefty reliever Michael Freeman, and he is the player spotlight of the week.
As a reliever, Freeman has moved quickly through the farm system of the Astros. He was drafted in the seventh round in 2015 and pitched in Quad Cities right away. By the end of his 2015 rookie season, Freeman found himself in Corpus Christi. This was after dominating to the tune of a sub-1.00 WHIP and around 1.00 ERA combined in Lancaster and Quad Cities. After making it to the Hooks, struggles started to arise. In the 2016 season, Freeman had a mediocre ERA of 7.19. He also struggled to strike anyone out, only 29 Ks in 56.1 innings of work.
This season, however, Michael Freeman is not messing around. In his first nine appearances of the year, he has a 1.50 ERA and has already struck out ten hitters. Freeman has shown that he can be a quick outing reliever while also proving that he can work multiple innings for the team.
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Strengths and Weaknesses.
One of Freeman’s main strengths is his pitching ability against left-handed hitters. While this strength has not shown itself early on this season, his history indicates that he is considerably better against lefties. He is also very good at keeping the ball in the park, only allowing six home runs in his career. Besides his blowup year last season, Freeman continues to show great promise in the Astros organization.
While Freeman has the makings of a great pitcher for the Astros, he still has a few weaknesses. Walks have been an issue early in his career, and he has already issued ten in his 12 innings so far. He also does not strike a ton of hitters out.This is not something you generally want from a potential lefty specialist.
Let’s be honest, here. Tony Sipp is not getting the job done out of the bullpen for the Astros. Should Freeman show the dominance he possessed in Single-A this season, he may slip into that lefty specialist role shortly that Sipp currently has. A dominant southpaw coming out of the bullpen would be a welcome sight in Houston.
*Stats via milb.com*