Kyle Freeland: A hometown star beginning to blossom on the mound

The Colorado Rockies have a young arm that’s beginning to turn heads in baseball and he’s doing it in the very city he grew up in.

Kyle Freeland pitched seven stellar innings of shutout ball Sunday against the San Francisco Giants. before being lifted to a standing ovation from his hometown Colorado crowd.

“We have a good fanbase here,” Freeland said. “It showed today that they were behind me and the team as well. It was a great day for Sunday day baseball.”

The Rockies shut out the Giants 8-0, sweeping the series.

The Rockies have a new-found surge in their starting pitching from Freeland (2-1). The 23-year old Evansville product has been growing his game since first appearing with Colorado; and may have found his style of pitching that is familiar to Rockies fans, keeping the ball down.

“His best stuff was down in the strike zone, with movement,” manager Bud Black said of Freeland. “When you’re throwing the ball in the low 90’s with action, down, you’re going to get grounders. I think moving forward, that should be a big part of Kyle’s game, is the ground ball…I think the focus this weekend between starts was the ball down with action, over the plate.”

Keeping the baseball down appears to be where Black and his staff want to shape the former Thomas Jefferson High School star. Freeland has been working with pitching coach Steve Foster and bullpen coach Darren Holmes regarding arm movement and how to improve between starts, and is seeing the fruits of his labor.

“My work in-between starts, whether that be bullpens, dry work, looking at video, whatever it is, you wanna pinpoint what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong,” he said.

Freeland drew 12 ground balls on Sunday and is fourth in the majors in ground ball outs among all pitchers. Freeland’s last two stints have been successful ones, throwing 11 innings and only allowing one run. Freeland’s recent success has been critical for the Rockies, who continue to work without ace Jon Gray, who is sitting out with a toe injury.

Freeland knows that mentally, execution and staying sharp is all that matters right now for him moving forward, no matter the mound he pitches off.

“You still have to execute pitches no matter where you are,” Freeland said. “That’s the mentality I have…You learn on the road, you learn at home. Being comfortable in both situations is what you need to do.”

From Thomas Jefferson high school, to Evansville, to the Colorado Rockies, Freeland is a Colorado kid who is finding his groove in the majors. Freeland knows there’s a lot more to learn when pitching in the majors, but the start to the 2017 season has been better than he, or anyone else could have dreamed.

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