Pirates Re-Instate Wes Freeman From the Voluntary Retired List

Mini camp started today, which not only features a large group of major league players working out in Bradenton for a week, but a large group of minor league players, who will be here for at least two weeks. When looking over the roster of players that are here, one name surprised me: Wes Freeman.

You may remember Freeman from the Pirates’ system a few years ago. He was a 16th round pick in the 2008 draft out of high school, receiving $150,000 to sign. His minor league career was filled with two themes: a ton of raw power, and way too many strikeouts. There was one stretch where it looked like he was putting it all together, when he hit for an .830 OPS in State College in 2011. However, the next year he had a .428 OPS in Bradenton, striking out in 49 of his 150 at-bats.

Freeman retired after the 2012 season, but I confirmed that he has been activated by the Pirates off the voluntarily retired list. He’s back as a player, rather than returning as a player/coach. He turns 25 at the end of the month, and will probably go to Bradenton or Altoona to serve as organizational outfield depth.

One scout in 2011 said that he looked like the only future MLB player on the State College roster, which was a roster that included prospects like Alex Dickerson, Stetson Allie, Nick Kingham, and Joely Rodriguez. Without digging up that old comment, I can’t remember if that was the entire team, or just the hitters. He had a big frame, and had the look of a major league player at the time. The strikeouts were the main thing holding him back, and I doubt that his strikeout issues are gone. He was always an interesting prospect due to his raw power and big frame, and I’m sure that is still there. I haven’t seen Freeman here yet, although I know he is here, since his locker is full.

UPDATE 12:05 PM: I talked to Freeman a few minutes ago. He said that he hasn’t played baseball since retiring, but that he has been working as a Strength and Conditioning Coordinator at the Inspiration Academy in Bradenton. He’s looking to give baseball one last shot, and said that he basically has 30 days in Spring Training to try and make the roster of one of the minor league affiliates. Freeman looks like he’s in great shape, which makes sense, considering his previous job.

  • I’ve known former prospects who had as much success (?) as Freeman and they all think the same thing a year out… “I know I could make it if they gave me the chance.” Usually that chance doesn’t come but maybe the Pirates have learned a lesson from Jason Grilli and John Holzkom. Both found themselves outside looking in and instead of blaming the system they looked in the mirror and found the problem in themselves. I give Wes a chance because he thinks he can and someone in the bucco office thinks he’s got a chance. Definite frontrunner for Inspirational Minor League Story of the Year.

    • I suppose the Team that initially drafted him is going to be the one that would most likely give him another chance. Did you ask any of the other MLB teams?

      • Since he was on the voluntary retired list, they just reinstated him, they didn’t have to re-sign him.

  • Wes Freeman is one of the many non-college prospects that I think would have benefited from a season in the Appy League as a bridge from GCL to NY-Penn League. Unfortunately, the Pirates did not purchase the Bristol Pirates until last season.

  • It makes you wonder if he just wanted to play again or if he thinks he figured something out in his time off. You see pitchers do this and be successful but I can’t remember many hitters…at least ones that were never established…Warren Cromartie came back after years….and Ryne Sandberg after a year off.

    • Cromartie played in Japan that whole time between major league seasons

      • Thanks John. I thought he played in Japan a few years ad then retired and still came back after a gap. Didn’t realize there was no gap. That was back in the days when you went to Japan and you basically weren’t heard from again. He came back and had a great year as a pinch hitter. He was just a damn good hitter always.

    • I think he found out college life was all that it was cracked up to be.

      • He actually went back to school and became a Certified Personal Trainer and got the job Tim mentioned above in the update. He’s in great shape and just giving his dream one more go.

  • Maybe Michael Felix will come back too! …no thanks.

  • Well now, didn’t THIS come out of nowhere. Who is next? Trent Stevenson?

  • He was one of the first low-ish draft picks that i remember kinda following through this site. I guess this is kinda cool.

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