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Scouting report: Brewers outfielder Frelick

No. 69 overall prospect proving to be quick study in second season
Top Brewers prospect Sal Frelick batted .331 with an .885 OPS in his first 35 Minor League games last year. (Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)
April 12, 2022's Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at top ranked Brewers prospect Sal Frelick. Sal Frelick’s first full season has started off as well as his professional debut. The No.'s Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at top ranked Brewers prospect Sal Frelick.

Sal Frelick’s first full season has started off as well as his professional debut.

The No. 69 overall prospect enjoyed a 4-for-11 (.364) opening weekend for High-A Wisconsin, collecting a pair of doubles and an RBI while scoring twice. The hot start is reminiscent of his first stint in the Minors after he was drafted by the Brewers with the 15th overall pick last July.

Frelick earned a spot with the Timber Rattlers for the final three weeks of the season after putting together a .442/.500/.605 slash line with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBIs and 21 runs scored in 20 games between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Low-A Carolina.

Those numbers certainly look good on paper, and Frelick has earned the acclaim of Brewers top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. And that's not the easiest setting for a young outfielder to stand out as Frelick leads a talented group that also features Joey Wiemer and Garrett Mitchell at the top of the list.

“[He’s] consistently good at everything,” noted Wisconsin manager Joe Ayrault, who also helmed Carolina during Frelick’s stint there last year. “As far as his defense in the outfield, his baserunning, he can flat-out hit. Great guy in the clubhouse. … An all-around great guy. We’re glad to have him. It was a great pick by our scouting department.”

Frelick’s strong start is especially encouraging considering the sour end to his 2021 season. The 21-year-old did not immediately handle High-A pitching. He went 10-for-60 (.167) with three extra-base hits and five walks in those final 15 games.

After the season, Frelick, a Boston native and Boston College product, returned home. He took advantage of the new baseball facilities at BC to work on his swing and stayed on a lifting regimen with his college strength coach throughout the offseason.

The offseason work seemed to pay off right away this spring. He collected three hits in nine Cactus League at-bats and saw time at all three outfield positions in five different games. Frelick was not expecting to get the call for his first big-league spring game against the Giants on March 21, but he was up to the task. He collected hits in each of his two at-bats and drove in a pair of runs.

"It was huge. It was my first taste of major-league-level baseball," Frelick told reporters after that game. "It was fun coming out here. First time meeting some of the guys, too, which was great. Kind of putting faces to names and whatnot. … Great experience as a whole and happy I got in at the end, too. I was able to get a couple hits there and catch a fly ball. … So, all smiles."

Frelick’s bat, assuming it maintains some level of consistency, should be what keeps him ahead in the Brewers’ outfield competition. He had more walks than strikeouts over three college seasons, and his on-base percentage was excellent both at Boston College and with his collegiate summer league teams. Frelick doesn’t blow anyone away with his size and won’t be relied upon much for his power, but his speed and athleticism, coupled with his bat-to-ball skills, might be able to move him quickly through the Minors.

“He acts like he's the biggest dude on the field,” Brewers area scout Ty Blankmeyer told after the Draft. “He knows his game. He's very sharp. He's got a very high aptitude, so he understands what he has to do to be successful. The twitch and the athleticism and the explosiveness make up for -- I don't care how big you are, because this guy, his game is big. He might be 'small,' but his game's not small, it's big. When you go watch him in the game, he always does something to make you get up out of your seat, like, 'woah.' He's an exciting player.”

Although he’s hit the ground running since the Draft, Frelick didn’t feel that he came into his own as a baseball player until his final season with the Eagles. He was a heavily recruited football player that also played hockey in high school. He had a very strong freshman year while battling through some injuries at BC. Then he struggled a bit during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020.

“It wasn’t a smooth path by any means to get here,” Frelick told on Draft night. “I think the next level is going to be good for me, because I don’t think I’ve reached that full potential. I haven’t tapped into it yet, just because I’ve been cut short with injuries, cut short with that COVID year. This was my first year playing fall ball and a spring season all together. I just know there’s so much more potential for me and the ceiling is high. So, I’m excited to get to work.”

Just three games into his first full season, Frelick already seems to have a handle on being a professional ballplayer. His speed and athleticism stood out with a couple incredible defensive plays last season, and he’s clearly seeing the ball well at the plate in the early going. At this rate, there may be a couple more promotions in store for Frelick this summer.

Here’s what the experts at MLB Pipeline have to say about Frelick:

Scouting grades (20-80 scale)

HIT: 60
RUN: 70
ARM: 50

“Listed at 5-foot-9, Frelick went undrafted out of Lexington (Mass.) High School, where he also won Massachusetts' Gatorade Football Player of the Year award in 2017-18 and excelled in hockey. He headed to Boston College, where he quickly grabbed scouts’ attention by hitting .367/.447/.513 with 18 steals in 39 games as a freshman before undergoing knee surgery. He didn’t perform at the same level during his pandemic-shortened season, but was a force as a junior, finishing with a .359 average and a 1.002 OPS. Ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 11 Draft prospect, Frelick went to Milwaukee at No. 15 overall and signed for $4 million. The organization sent him to three affiliates (Rookie, Low-A, High-A), and he posted a combined slash line of .329/.414/.466 with 12 steals in 35 games.

Frelick’s athleticism remains a big part of his game. His best grades are reserved for his plus-plus speed that’s been put to good use on the basepaths at every level. The left-handed slugger exhibits impressive contact ability and discipline, having earned a 50/60 K/BB ratio in college and a 25/21 in the Minors. That approach drives his impressive ability to pick up hits because while he’s stronger than his frame might indicate, he doesn’t show a ton of in-game power. Most of his future extra-base hits could come as products of his speed picking up an additional bag on balls to the outfield.

The former Eagle saw some time in the corners in college but moved to center for good in 2021, earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He might continue to improve defensively as he gets more used to the routes required to play up the middle. With his offensive skill set, he could be Milwaukee’s leadoff man of the future.”

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for