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Freeland dominates in Sally League debut
Rockies first-rounder hurls five two-hit innings in first Tourists start
08/06/2014 12:31 AM ET
Kyle Freeland fanned a career-high six while not issuing a walk for the fourth start. (David M. Schofield/Lakewood BlueClaws)

Rockies first-rounder Kyle Freeland took the mound in his Class A debut with a few butterflies, but after throwing a perfect first inning, the nerves were gone.

Colorado's No. 4 prospect allowed two hits and struck out a career-high six without issuing a walk over five scoreless frames en route to Asheville's 8-1 win at Lakewood.

"I felt great from the get-go. I had all my stuff working, throwing down in the zone," Freeland said. "My pitching coach [Mark Brewer] told me they're a free swinging team, so I had to get my fastball inside on them."

The 21-year-old southpaw didn't issue a walk for the fourth time this season.

"I love it. I don't like giving up walks. It always eats at me when I do."

The University of Evansville product yielded an infield single to Willians Astudillo in the second and a double to Dylan Cozens in the fifth.

After going 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA over five starts with Rookie-level Grand Junction, Freeland was brought into manager Anthony Sanders' office and informed he would be heading to Asheville the next day.

 "I was happy on the inside, but I knew I had to be ready," he said. "I'm extremely happy with the beginning of my career. … I just want to keep improving and stretching myself out and get wins for my team."

MLB.com's No. 74 overall prospect matched his longest career outing. While Freeland is looking to extend his starts, for the time being, his aim is 65 pitches or five innings.  

Since being picked eighth overall, the 6-foot-6 hurler said he has grown as a pitcher in his first month of pro baseball.

"There's been a few small things, especially learning the transition between college ball and pro ball and building that was the tough part," the Colorado native said. "The hitters are a lot more aggressive, [so] one thing I do is keep the ball low and getting early contact."

No. 7 Rockies prospect Ryan McMahon gave his new teammate a boost with two RBIs and No. 5 Raimel Tapia reached base four times and plated a run.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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