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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 18: Caleb Freeman

If you think the Craig Kimbrel trade leaves the White Sox wanting in the pen, sit tight for this short man.

Fall Stars Game
The most important short arm in Charlotte this season? Caleb Freeman.
Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Caleb Freeman
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
195 pounds
Age: 24
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking: 50
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 32
SSS rank among all right-handed relief pitchers in the system: 1

Despite incredible stuff, Caleb Freeman struggled for Texas Tech largely because of his lack of control and command. His best year with the Red Raiders was as a sophomore in 2018, when he finished with a 5.18 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 22 contests spanning 33 innings, as he allowed 35 hits and 18 walks while fanning 31. Freeman’s junior season this year saw him slip to a 6.89 ERA and 2.49 WHIP in 15 2⁄3 innings, as he relinquished 26 hits (.388 OBA) and 13 walks (16.3%) while also striking out 13. The White Sox drafted Freeman, however, in the 15th round in 2019 with the hopes that they could help him reach his high ceiling.

Freeman did well at all three of his stops (AZL, Great Falls and Kannapolis) that year. In a combined 17 games totaling 24 2⁄3 innings, he saved four with a 2.19 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. In those innings, Freeman allowed just 15 hits (.170 OBA) and nine walks (8.9%) while striking out a whopping 38 batters (37.6%). It’s like he found his control and command overnight. He, like nearly everyone else, missed the 2020 season due to the pandemic shutdown.

The goal for Freeman in 2021 was to prove that his professional results in 2019 were no fluke — especially given him being cited specifically by farm director Chris Getz as the reliever to watch that summer. By all accounts, he did just that. In 25 appearances for Winston-Salem, Freeman posted a 3.62 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. In in 27 1⁄3 innings for the Dash, he surrendered 22 hits (.218 OBA) and 14 walks (12.1%) while striking out 33 (28.4%). Most of his control issues occurred in May and June, as he was still trying to shake off some rust. Freeman was promoted to Birmingham at the end of July, and performed even better. In 14 games totaling 16 2⁄3 innings, he produced a 2.70 ERA and 1.20 WHIP by relinquishing just 15 hits (.231 OBA) and five walks (7.1%) while fanning 22 (31.4%).

Just before the draft, Baseball America stated Freeman’s fastball typically runs 94-98 mph and flashes of a plus curve. However, they continued, his 20-grade control and command keeps him from taking advantage of his high-end stuff. Freeman’s fastball is given a 60 grade by MLB Pipeline, with his curve rated a notch below at 55. He offers a hard slider, but due to its inconsistency, grades at 50. Largely stemming from his college days, Freeman’s control is his weakest tool, at 40.

Freeman induced grounders at a 44.2% clip while with Birmingham, which should certainly ease his transition to the bandboxes of Charlotte’s Truist Field and Guaranteed Rate Field in the near future.

Where will he begin in 2022? There’s no easy answer to this question. Freeman could return to Birmingham for a month or so, and then get an early promotion to Charlotte. Or he could simply begin the season with the Knights. No matter where he begins, it’s certainly been encouraging to see him make some impressive inroads on his control and command.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

18. Caleb Freeman, RHRP
19. Luis Mieses, RF
20. Kade McClure, RHSP
21. Tanner McDougal, RHSP
22. Jason Bilous, RHSP
23. Wilfred Veras, 1B
24. Lenyn Sosa, SS
25. Jonathan Stiever, RHSP
26. Brooks Gosswein, LHSP
27. Misael González, RF
28. Terrell Tatum, CF
29. Carlos Pérez, C
30. Bennett Sousa, LHRP
31. Luis Basabe, RF
32. McKinley Moore, RHRP
33. Emilio Vargas, RHSP
34. Blake Rutherford, LF
35. Anderson Severino, LHRP
36. DJ Gladney, 3B
37. Luke Shilling, RHRP
38. Chase Krogman, LF
39. Cristian Mena, RHSP
40. Benyamín Bailey, LF
41. Tyler Johnson, RHRP
42. Andrew Perez, LHRP
43. Tyler Neslony, LF
44. Theo Denlinger, RHRP
45. Hunter Schryver, LHRP
46. Jefferson Mendoza, C
47. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
48. Gil Luna Jr. LHRP
49. John Parke, LHSP
50. Victor Quezada, 3B
51. Haylen Green, LHRP
52. Sammy Peralta, LHRP
53. Yoelvin Silven, RHRP
54. Taylor Broadway, RHRP
55. Noah Owen, RHRP
56. Luis Curbelo, 3B
57. Bryce Bush, RF
58. James Beard, CF
59. Xavier Fernández, C
60. Wilber Sánchez, SS
61. Kohl Simas, RHRP
62. Johan Dominguez, RHSP
63. Jagger Rusconi, 2B
64. Ronaldo Guzman, LHSP
65. Laz Rivera, 3B
66. Adam Hackenberg, C
67. Will Kincanon, RHRP
68. Lane Ramsey, RHRP
69. Tommy Sommer, LHSP
70. Randel Mondesi, RF
71. Shawn Goosenberg, 2B
72. Zack Muckenhirn, LHRP
73. Cameron Butler, CF
74. Godwin Bennett, RF
75. Logan Glass, CF
76. Dario Borrero, 1B
77. Craig Dedelow, RF
78. Carlos Hinestroza, RHRP
79. Gunnar Troutwine, C
80. Kade Mechals, RHSP
81: Caberea Weaver, CF
82. Layant Tapia, SS
83. Homer Cruz, RHRP
84. Kaleb Roper, RHSP
85. Jerry Burke, RHSP
86. Emerson Talavera, RHRP
87. Isaiah Carranza, RHSP
88. Davis Martin, RHSP
89. Tyler Osik, 1B
90. Samil Polanco, 3B
91. Manuel Veloz, RHRP
92. Pauly Milto, RHRP
93. Fraser Ellard, LHRP
94. Colby Smelley, C
95. Manuel Guariman, C
96. Everhett Hazelwood, RHRP
97. Garrett Schoenle, LHRP
98. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
99. Anderson Comas, RF
100. Jake Elliott, RHRP