Kyle Freeland is poised to compete for a spot with his hometown Rockies

Selected eight overall by the Colorado Rockies in the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft, pitcher Kyle Freeland is back in spring training for his second big league camp. This time, he knows he has a shot at earning a job with the club.

“You can feel the excitement in the air this spring training,” Freeland told Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro during the Afternoon Drive on Mile High Sports Radio. “You know there’s going to be competition for spots, especially pitching-wise.”

After a successful season split between Double-A and Triple-A, where he posted a combined 3.89 ERA, Freelend feels that he is ready to make the jump to the majors. Already boasting a solid fastball and slider, the 23-year-old feels like his change-up is also MLB-ready.

“My change-up has taken leaps and bounds from where it was when I got drafted,” he said. “I have so much confidence in it now. I feel like I can throw it in any situation, any count, to any hitter.”

Though Tyler Chatwood, Chad Bettis, Tyler Anderson and Jon Grey appear to have locked down the top-4 spots in the starting rotation, the fifth spot is up-for-grabs, something Freeland doesn’t think is out of reach.

“What I need to do is just stay focused on my tasks and my work. Improving myself as a pitcher, that’s the main thing I need to focus on; not trying to go out to beat anyone out or claim a spot. I feel, as long as I keep my nose to the grindstone, work hard and do everything I need to do, I feel that things will work out well.”

The most difficult thing about playing for the Rockies for Freeland may be the location. A Denver native that went to Thomas Jefferson High School, he is looking forward to the challenge of representing his hometown.

“It was the experience of a lifetime, being able to be drafted by my hometown team, a team that I grew up watching and loving,” he said.

It’s definitely a little added pressure. It’s something that I definitely want to take on, and put on my shoulders and succeed at. “Not many people get the opportunity to [play] for their hometown team. So, having my friends and family there, pitching to represent the state of Colorado and the city of Denver, is something awesome and something I really want to do.”

Listen to the full interview with Kyle Freeland, including his early impressions of Rockies manager Bud Black and whether he could have struck out Larry Walker in his prime, in the podcast below.

Catch the Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro every weekday from 4p-6p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup.