Fields and Freiman join the Astros

In today’s Rule 5 Draft, the Astros selected two players: Josh Fields, right-handed pitcher from Boston, and Nate Freiman, first baseman from San Diego.

Fields was drafted in the 1st round (20th overall) by Seattle in 2008, and was sent to Boston as a piece in the Erik Bedard trade. He’s thrown just under 177 innings, almost all of them in AA, and has shown a remarkable inability to stop from walking guys. He walks a little more than five guys per nine innings pitched, but has limited hits enough to stay at a 1.291 WHIP. He’s made up for it a little bit by whiffing 10.5 per nine innings. But what looks best is his ability to limit the home run: 0.5 HR/9 isn’t a bad statistic.

On paper, a 1.291 WHIP, 0.5 HR/9, and 10.5 K/9 rate looks awfully good, but you also have to remember that this is a 26-year-old pitcher playing in the Eastern League. His age-appropriate seasons weren’t quite as impressive.

After moving into the Boston organization, he was blowing guys away (10+ K/9 in all of his stops there, FIPs all under 4), so it’s possible someone in their organization was able to “fix” him, but it’s just as likely that his results were due to pitching to hitters two and three years his junior. He clearly profiles as a middle-reliever in the Houston bullpen.

Players taken in the Rule 5 Draft must spend the entire season – aside from any injury rehab assignments – on the 25-man roster. If Houston wants to send him to the minors, they’ll have to arrange a trade. Otherwise, they’d have to return him to Boston.

Freiman was taken in the 8th round by San Diego, out of Duke University. He’s climbed steadily but slowly through their organization – spending entire seasons in short season, A, high A, and finally double-A ball. In San Antonio in 2012, he had a .203 ISO  and a .324 BABIP. He’s never posted double-digit walk rates, but isn’t exactly a strikeout king, either.

Good power, good on-base rate. The usual caveats about playing under his age bracket, but he looks like a potentially-solid bat, and should get a look at DH or first base.

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