|Former Wellesley High star Nate Freiman is minor league-bound. (Duke Photography)|
For Freiman, from Wellesley to Duke to Class A
Nate Freiman was the state’s Division 2 baseball player of the year as a senior at Wellesley High. This spring as a senior at Duke University, he blasted 20 homers, setting a new career mark at the school with 43.
Now he is ready to embark on his professional career with the San Diego Padres. The hard-hitting 6-foot-8, 250-pound first baseman was scheduled to make his debut last night as a member of the Eugene (Ore.) Emeralds of the Class A Northwest League.
“I can’t wait. I had a great time at Wellesley High and at Duke and this is the next step,’’ said Freiman, who was at home with his parents when he learned that he had been selected by the Padres in the eighth round (234th pick overall) in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft on June 10. Adam Bourassa, San Diego’s Mid-Atlantic scout and a former Red Sox intern, called Freiman right after the selection, he said.
“I was really excited and honored not only to go within the first 10 rounds but to also be the lowest-round first baseman drafted by San Diego,’’ said Freiman, who hit .352 this spring and was a first team Academic All-American. He was drafted in the 28th round a year ago by the Texas Rangers, but opted to keep his amateur status. He then spent a second summer playing for Orleans in the Cape Cod League and returned to Duke to earn his degree and complete his college baseball commitment.
“It was an easy decision to remain at Duke,’’ said Freiman, just the second Blue Devil to hit at least 20 home runs in a season. “Now my focus is to keep learning and developing, because you don’t make the major leagues in one summer.’’
Duke head coach Sean McNally, who also began his pro baseball career in Eugene and has told Freiman about the great scenery and loyal fans in Oregon, said Freiman made it clear he would be a four-year player at the Division 1 program in Durham, N.C.
“Nate definitely had his best season this year. He came back even stronger after breaking his hand last year and there wasn’t a better college power hitter than Nate this season,’’ said McNally. “The Cape Cod League was also a factor in his improvement because he batted against some of the best college pitchers in the country. I could coach another 50 years and never be around another player or person as special as Nate.’’
Freiman underwent surgery early in his junior season to repair his injured left hand (he’s a natural righty), and missed a month before returning to the squad. He worked hard with the team’s strength coach to prepare for his senior year, and wound up with the second-highest career average (.356) in program history.
A standout pitcher and hitter at Wellesley High (class of 2005), Freiman injured his throwing arm as a college freshman, ending his pitching aspirations, but setting the stage for his further development as a hitter and first baseman.
“Playing in the Cape league also taught me how to deal with adversity against great pitching. I learned to come back with a good attitude in the next game,’’ said Freiman. “And to be honest, although I loved to pitch, I loved hitting more, and Coach McNally is a great hitting instructor.’’
Other local players selected in the draft included Milford’s Phil Negus, a junior pitcher at Wake Forest who starred at Phillips Exeter Academy, taken in the 18th round by the Chicago White Sox; and Marlborough’s Chris McKenzie, a graduate of Marian High in Framingham who just finished his freshman year pitching for San Jacinto College, a two-year school in Texas, taken in the 35th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Proceeds will benefit Worcester-based Why Me Inc., which operates Sherry’s House as part of its program to provide crisis support to children with cancer and their families.
A local cast of more than 100 skaters will perform, including the World Junior bronze medalists in pairs skating, Marissa Castelli and Sudbury resident Simon Shnapir. Yasmin Siraj of Brookline and John McKenna of Boxborough, who competed as novices at the US Championships, will also be featured.
Other area players heading to the Waltham school in the fall include freshman linebacker Alex Jalbert, a Central Mass. and Division 1 All-Star at Shrewsbury High; freshman defensive back Travis Stanley of Arlington, who helped lead Arlington Catholic High to a Super Bowl berth last fall; freshman wide receiver Mike Sumrell, an Eastern Mass. All-Star at Belmont High; and freshman running back and cornerback Paul Tizzano from Shrewsbury High.
Marvin Pave can be reached at 508-820-4223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.