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2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Draft Preview: Sal Frelick

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This player’s profile is likely to seem awfully familiar to fans of the organization.

Worcester Bravehearts Vs. North Shore Navigators Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College

Height: 5’9”
Weight: 175 lbs.
DOB: 4/19/2000
B/T: L/R

The Tools

Hit: 55/60 Power: 45/50 Run: 70 Field: 55 Arm: 50 Overall: 55

Introduction

It has become almost impossible to deny that Arizona has been pegged as having a “type”. With that being the case, it should be no surprise that another of the names that is, like Khalil Watson, being more frequently linked to Arizona is, a very speedy, undersized player with the ability to play strong up-the-middle defense, has a strong on-base ability, and a bit of surprising power. Enter, Sal Frelick.

Don’t let Sal Frelick’s diminutive size fool you. Frelick is one beast of an athlete. Going to school in Massachusetts, Frelick was the captain of his high school’s football team. And the hockey team. And the baseball team. At 5’9”, one might expect that on the gridiron, Frelick played as a safety or possibly was a hands receiver. Nope. He was the quarterback. Oh, and he was one hell of a quarterback. Frelick amassed 135 touchdowns and over 10,000 total yards at quarterback, including over 3,700 yards and 51 touchdowns during his senior season. That final season was enough to win Frelick Massachusetts Gatorade player of the year. Maybe it was his size. Maybe it was that he was so highly touted on the football field and such a solid hockey player, but only one D! school came around to offer Frelick a scholarship to play baseball. That was Boston College. The Eagles have been highly rewarded for their confidence in him.

Frelick immediately established himself as a fixture atop a talented Boston College lineup. As a true freshman in 2019, Frelick started 38 games and compiled a .367/.447/.513 triple-slash with four home runs and 18 stolen bases. Impressively, he also walked more times (22) than he struck out (16). Equally as important for a young player, he didn’t commit a single error. Frelick had surgery on his meniscus in the fall of his freshman year, at the end of the season for Boston College. The injuries doesn’t seem to have hurt his performance one bit.

In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Frelick only managed to play in 15 games. The results were a bit less gaudy, with Frelick posting a triple-slash of .241/.380/.414, including two home runs and seven more stolen bases. Once again, Frelick manged to draw more free passes (11) than he punched out (6). Also again, he didn’t commit an error. With a total of 53 collegiate games to go by, Frelick is a .322/.428/.486 hitter with 26 stolen bases. He’s walked 33 times and struck out just 22 times in 208 at-bats. He has yet to commit an error. Frelick then took his tools to the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, where he continued to be a dominant force at the top of the lineup. In 35 games, Frelick slashed .361/.438/.594 with seven homers while stealing another 22 bags. Also, still no errors.

At the Plate

Hit

At the plate, Frelick possesses excellent bat speed and plus-plus bat-to-ball skills. He has geat coverage of the zone from top to bottom and is routinely able to catch up to heat at the top of the zone. Meanwhile, his power comes from making contact at the bottom of the zone. This makes him a headache for strike-throwers. Like just about everything he does, Frelicks swing is simple and quick. He has only the smallest of toe touches (something he has recently experimented with eliminating) and almost zero leg kick. He has quick-twitch hands which allow him to get the bat through the zone very fast. His strong wrists provide hidden, explosive power when he turns on a ball. Instead of selling out pull-side to tap into his power though, Frelick routinely works up the middle, spraying the ball gap-to-gap and using the deepest parts of the field to earn himself plenty of extra-base hits.

Frelick does sometimes have a tendency to use his shoulders a bit too much in his swing. This leads him to rolling over pitches, especially up in the zone. With his speed, he is sometimes able to make this work for him, but it is something that more advanced coaching is liable to work on eliminating.

As evidenced by consistently walking more than he strikes out, Frelick has excellent strike zone recognition and rarely chases out of the zone. He is always content to walk or poke a ball the other way for a single, knowing that once he is on base, he can create a distraction for the pitcher with his strong ability to swipe bags.

Power

Most of Frelick’s power comes from being able to turn on balls. He especially shows power when making contact down in the zone. His quick-twitch swing and balanced load allow him to do this with decent frequency. In-game power currently sits around 40-45 on the 20/80 scale. However, plenty of scouts agree that he could likely reach 45-50 in-game power if he were to focus on tapping into it, providing a 15-20 home run threat. This is driven by the sorts of moon shots Frelick has launched over the last few years, including haiving hit an exit velocity exceeding 108 mph. When Frelick gets a hold of one, it goes deep. The biggest thing keeping Frelick from being an easy 20+ home run threat is that his game is to play up the middle. It may wind up just being best to let Frelick be Frelick and taking whatever power manages to shine through and simply let him get his doubles, triples, and stolen bases.

In the Field

Field

Frelick began his career at Boston College patrolling right field, where his speed and instincts, along with his willingness to play with complete (read reckless) abandon, made him a plus defender. In the summer leagues, Frelick worked mostly in the outfield, but also saw time at short and also at second, which is actually his natural position, and where he played in high school when the Eagles first scouted him. 100% of Frelick’s time at BC in 2020 and 2021 has been spent in center field. Frelick’s instinct and speed allow him to patrol alley to alley. He is a plus defender in the grass with arm enough to man right field, but he is also a fluid, sure-handed second baseman, with good range to his right, giving whatever team drafts him all sorts of options.

Arm

THere is nothing spectacular about Frelick’s arm. In right field, it will not be much of an asset, but it is strong enough to make the routine plays and accurate enough to make the tougher plays close. As a center fielder or second baseman, he has all the arm he needs and then some. In a pinch, his arm is also strong enough for him to play short and still make the off-balance throw to first. Chances are though, that’s not something he is going to be called on to do. Center field beckons.

Overall

Frelick entered 2021 already a day one draft candidate. While his rise has not been nearly as loud or extreme as other first round talents, Frelick has quietly managed to put himself into top-10 discussion territory. What Frelick lacks in the extreme upside of a talent like Watson, or the dynamic all-star shortop talent of a Jordan Lawlar, Frelick makes up for in total, already realized game. Frelick’s development will be a matter of small tweaks, not long years of waiting and refining. Frelick’s biggest draft asset may not be his great speed and bat-to-ball skills, but rather, his ability to play at a plus level at multiple positions. That flexibility will make it very easy for whatever team drafts him to quickly find a home.

Conclusion

So long as Frelick is able to take to coaching to better sync his swing in order to be able to stay back on more advanced pitching, Frelick could not only be a long-term table-setting star at the MLB level, he could be a rapid riser as well. The big question for most clubs will be whether or not to play him at second or in center, but that is the sort of issue most clubs love to have.

Scouting Clip: Have fun with the fielding segment that comprises the final 25% of the clip.

TL/DR

Sal Frelick is a versatile plus defender, able to play up the middle who possesses great bat-to-ball skills and excels as a table-setter. Already possessing advanced base running instincts, he is a threat to steal 35+ bags in a full season. He plays with reckless abandon and has a reputation for being a morale-inducing spark plug. A top-10 talent, Frelick is one of the best college bats in the draft and has a very high floor (one of the highest in the draft), but not quite the ceiling of others ranked ahead of him.

Odds of Arizona drafting: 30% and falling

Up next: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (CA)