WASHINGTON – Cole Freeman knows this is a big season for him.
Drafted in 2017 by the Nationals, the native of Louisiana turns 28 in September and has yet to advance above the Double-A level.
It hasn’t helped that the last two minor league seasons were hampered by the pandemic - with the 2020 season wiped out entirely.
“We are at this point where we have to make it up to the big leagues,” outfielder Freeman told Federal Baseball in a phone interview from Spring Training in Florida on Saturday night.
“We are kind of knocking on the door.”
He may have been talking about other members of the 2017 draft class, including seventh-round pick and pitcher Jackson Tetreault.
Some from that class have already made it to The Show – such as lefty Seth Romero – but haven’t done enough to solidify a spot for 2022.
Nic Raquet, a lefty pitcher out of William & Mary who was a third round pick in ‘17, hasn’t played pro ball since reaching the Single-A level with Potomac in 2019.
Freeman has been in minor league Spring Training this month and has been working with Coco Crisp, who was hired prior to this season as an outfield and baserunning coordinator in player development for Washington.
Crisp played in the majors from 2002 to 2016 with several teams and had 309 steals and 130 homers.
“We work with him every day; the vibes have been good. It is a good time down here,” Freeman said.
“He is easy to talk with. He doesn’t try to change much. Obviously, all of us knew he was, growing up” and following the majors.
The Nationals had their first minor league Spring Training game last week against the Marlins, who are based about 20 miles north of West Palm Beach in Jupiter.
Freeman, a fourth-round pick out of LSU by Washington, wasn’t satisfied with his 2021 season as he hit .267 with an OPS of .666 in 397 at-bats with the Harrisburg Senators.
“I didn’t have enough stolen bases as I would have liked last year,” said Freeman, who swiped 15 bags while on City Island.
Here's the Cole Freeman HR an on 0-2 pitch pic.twitter.com/4EuowKnbnA— Mick Reinhard (@Mayflies) May 7, 2021
“I want to stay as consistent as possible. That is the biggest goal.”
With that as motivation, Freeman rented an Airbnb in Arizona this past offseason and worked out with R.J. Guyer, who was the strength coach at Harrisburg last season.
“I moved out there in December and stayed out there until about March 2. I worked on agility and strengthening my right leg. I went back to New Orleans for a week with my family and then headed down here for when camp started on March 8. I worked out five days a week to get that first step a little bit faster.”
After the past two seasons, Freeman feels there is a normal Spring Training with very few protocols due to the pandemic. He hopes Triple-A in his future.
“I want to elevate the ball a little bit more efficiently,” Freeman said. “I just want to be a little bit better than last year.”
Freeman is one of several LSU products in the Washington system, including outfielder Andrew Stevenson and pitchers Cole Henry and Todd Peterson – the latter was teammates with Freeman in college.