Nate Freiman, the ex-Wellesley High baseball player who later starred as a power hitting first baseman at Duke University and in the San Diego Padres’ minor league system, has been given a fresh shot at making the major leagues via Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. The Houston Astros, which had the worst record in the league this past season and switch to the American League in 2013, chose the 25-year-old Freiman with their first pick in the second round during baseball’s winter meetings.
What this means: Freiman must stay on the team’s 25-man major league roster or be sent through waivers, giving other teams a chance to grab him, or sent back to the Padres. While it seemed as though the weak hitting Padres would have been a good fit for the 6-foot-7-inch Freiman, who also starred for Israel’s team in the World Baseball Classic, being with the Astros could be an even better opportunity, possibly to play as a designated hitter.
“This is a guy who’s worth taking a chance on, a guy we’ve like since his days at Duke,” Goldstein said. “He was great in Arizona and played well for Israel as well. Right-handed guys with that kind of power are not normally available in the Rule 5. He destroys left-handed pitching, and he’s a guy you give an opportunity to him in the spring and see what he can do.”