It’s been an exciting MLB season, culminating with a thrilling postseason this October. In the American League, the Houston Astros overcame the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox to make it to the World Series. In the National League, the Atlanta Braves got scorching hot in the second half of the regular season, and defeated the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers en route to the Fall Classic.
As we enjoy the final games of the season, let’s take a look back at the amateur careers of three stars who are vying for a World Series crown.
Freeman has had a spectacular career, and has spent his entire time in the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves. He’ll be remembered as one of Atlanta’s most impressive sports heroes, and that legacy would be bolstered with a strong series against Houston.
Before he became a menacing presence at the plate and a Gold Glove winner on the diamond, Freeman was a jack of all trades at El Modena High School in Southern California. It might be hard to picture now, knowing him as an elite MLB first baseman, but Freeman was a third baseman and a pitcher in high school. There was a case to be made that the young star should have been starring on the mound rather than driving pitches back up the middle.
“He had a fastball in the low 90’s. Some teams wanted to draft him as a pitcher out of high school,” said Josh Kilner, his high school coach. Via 11alive.com
It would be an amazing story if Freeman got a shot on the mound for Atlanta during an extra inning marathon if the Braves’ bullpen was taxed.
Fried is still a young player just entering his prime at age 27 for the Braves. Within the last three seasons, he’s established himself as one of the more dynamic starter in MLB. He finished fifth in Cy Young voting last year, and tossed an impressive 165.2 innings in 2019 and in 2021.
Scouts could see Fried’s potential from a mile away, and was actually on a staff in high school that included current major leaguers Lucas Giolito and Jack Flaherty. He was 6’4” even at that time, and had a wicked curveball. Fried’s career almost never got off the ground, due to an errant throw by Giolito.
“Gio threw like a 96 mile per hour fastball at Fried’s face. Breaks his nose. He had raccoon eyes for like a month,” said former teammate Andrew Wallach. Via SI.com
Fried will likely be on the hill for Atlanta multiple times during the World Series, and he’ll look to fulfill the level of promise he’s had since his teenage years.
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman has been a lynchpin of Houston’s prolonged success over the last half decade. He’s won a World Series ring, and was named All-Star game MVP in the 2018 mid-summer classic. It’s a dynamic start to a career for a player who is only just 27 years old.
He was drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in 2012, but took his talents to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. In three years with the Tigers, Bregman completely raked at the dish. He had career averages of .336, 49 RBI’s and 22 stolen bases, while playing an average of 65 contests each year. His accomplished college career allowed him to be selected second overall in the 2015 MLB Draft by Houston.
Bregman led the program to two College World Series appearances, and was honored in 2013 with the Brooks Wallace award, which goes to the best shortstop in the country. His winning pedigree has a chance to be legendary if the Astros can pull off a victory in this Fall Classic.