April 1, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics fans during the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at O.co Coliseum. The Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland Athletics 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Duke in the MLB: Nate Freiman Impresses in MLB Debut

The Oakland Athletics’ first baseman Nate Freiman, a former Duke Blue Devil, made his MLB debut on Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners, and the 6’8, 250 lb monster didn’t disappoint.

It is always fun to see a former Duke player in the major leagues, mainly because there are so few of them. LA Dodgers’ pitcher Chris Capuano is the only alumni worth mentioning over the past decade (I guess you could make an argument for Scott Schoeneweis, but you’d probably be the first person to ever argue for the significance of Schoeneweis), leaving little for Duke baseball fans to cheer about at the professional level. It would be nice to have more Blue Devils to pay attention to.

This is where Nate Freiman comes in.

Freiman was the Houston Astros’ Rule-5 draft selection this winter, a result of the 26-year old crushing the ball at every single level he played at in his minor league career. The Astros are a team without about as much power as your local little league teams and Nate Freiman’s game revolves around power. It made sense.

His spring training wasn’t very impressive. Freiman received plenty of opportunity, logging 54 at bats in total, but he only managed to post a .241/.268/.370 slash, hardly the numbers you want to see from your ‘power-hitting’ first baseman.

As a Rule-5 draft pick, Freiman presented the Astros with the unique situation of having to keep him on the 25-man roster or get rid of him. Not overly impressed by his spring numbers, the Astros chose to waive the first baseman.

In swooped the Athletics, a team known for picking up players with low salaries and some upside, who picked up Freiman and added him to their 25-man roster. Just a little while later, Freiman was making his MLB debut against the Seattle Mariners in the third game of the four-game series.

Faced with a 2-2 count with 2 outs in the 2nd inning, Freiman sent a Joe Saunders’ offering back up the middle, grabbing his first major league hit and first major league RBI in his first major league at-bat. In his second at-bat, he would drop a ball into shallow right field, just out of the reach of second baseman Robert Andino. In the fifth inning, Freiman made a long run in Oakland’s endless abyss of foul territory to make an incredibly awkward, yet snazzy grab.

Freiman looked as composed as possible during his brief appearance, and I’m fairly certain he has bought himself some more time with the big league club, despite his 0-5 performance tonight against the Houston Astros.

So, Duke baseball fans, if you’re looking for another player to cheer for in the show, you should really start paying attention to Athletics games. They seem to think pretty highly of him out there, and I don’t see any reasons why you shouldn’t either.

Besides, he is kind of hard to avoid, being 6’8, 250 lbs and all.

Note: to see all of Freiman’s accolades and accomplishments during his career at Duke, click here!


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