Off to a great start

SS Freeman part of Scrappers’ early success

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Mahoning Valley shortstop Tyler Freeman throws to first base during a game last week at Eastwood Field. Just 13 months out of high school, Freeman has gotten off to a great start in his first year in the New York-Penn League.

NILES — Just over 13 months ago, Mahoning Valley Scrappers shortstop Tyler Freeman was still in high school at Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Now, 18 months from that moment, Freeman is tearing it up with the Scrappers through eight games. For him, it hasn’t changed much at all in his mind.

“It’s about my team. We get on and I do my best to score them,” Freeman said. “You have to know yourself. Not being the power hitter I am, (I) just stay gap to gap. Being a line drive hitter is what I guess is paying off.”

Last year, Freeman batted .297 with two home runs and 14 runs batted in the Arizona League. He also hit nine doubles and struck out just 12 times in 36 games with the Rookie League Indians.

Through eight games with Mahoning Valley, Freeman is batting .433 with 13 hits, five doubles, and he has driven in 10 runs. He ranks second in average (Elvis Perez, .522) and ranks first in RBI. He also has the most hits and doubles on the team.

“Thirteen months ago I was graduating high school. It’s crazy. It’s still baseball. I’m just playing baseball at another level,” he said. “There are still nine innings in this game and I’m still having fun.”

The Scrappers are definitely having fun through eight games so far. With just one loss in those eight games, Mahoning Valley has enjoyed the start of the year. They lead the New York-Penn League with a team .288 average and are second with six home runs. So far, they’ve driven in the most runs and have scored the most in the league.

“Whenever you are playing baseball, you want to get yourself better no matter what it is. You want to maximize your talent and not stay the same,” Freeman said on his development. “I’m working my butt off and the whole team is working its butt off. It has been showing.”

For the Scrappers, it is about staying the way they are for the time being. At 7-1 and in command of the Pinckney Division, the Scrappers will have to continue to hit and pitch well the rest of the year.

“When the pitching is going well, it makes our jobs at the plate so much easier,” Freeman said. “Once we are playing and having fun, no one can really stop us.”