The draft is pretty far off with its new later July 11th date, but players are perceived to be making their moves up and down the draft board. Many players will perform well and create rumors of their rise or go through a slump and see their draft stock fall amongst the prognosticators. The scouts are back traveling and building their lists of preferences. The Royals select with the seventh pick with a bonus pool likely around $9.3 million based on last year’s draft bonus pool. As fans, we will watch, predict and decide who our favorites are, but I’m here to tell you now who your favorite should be.
Nearly all of the players who get drafted will be their top players from their high school, and a few will be the best players to play in their state. Very few, however, could be one of the best athletes a state has ever produced. For one player, though, that could be the case - Sal Frelick.
A wicked good football player in high school, Frelick was named Massachusetts Gatorade player of the year as a senior. He accounted for 135 touchdowns and 10000 total yards at quarterback, including over 3700 yards and 51 touchdowns during his senior season. Plenty of baseball players in this draft will have played football during their high school career, but how many of them will have done it at a Division I scholarship earning level while being a 5’9 quarterback? When you’re from the Boston area with a propensity to create highlight plays with his arm and legs, you’re going to draw comparisons to a former Heisman winner.
“He’s a once-in-a-generation type player. He has a combination of awareness, intelligence, speed, and ball skills.” - Bob O’Neil, defensive coordinator of Brockton High.
The Boston College baseball coaches first recognized the talent Frelick offered, offering him a scholarship after his freshman season. Other D1 baseball offers didn’t come in for him, but the BC coaches never doubted the talent. Perhaps the offers didn’t come in because he wasn’t focused solely on baseball as his school’s captain in football, hockey, and baseball, which never allowed him to get those extra reps that a singular focused player would. With Flutie-like skills on the field, the quarterback decided to follow suit with his commitment to Boston College. Unlike Flutie, that commitment would be to baseball only. A somewhat surprising result as BC was his only D1 offer in baseball compared to multiple football offers. Still, he weighed the future, followed the advice he heard about focusing on one sport, and chose baseball.
That commitment showed itself to be the right one almost immediately as Frelick and a pair of teammates were named to the Perfect Game Freshman All-American teams. Despite a season-ending injury that cost him a few games, he put on a show setting a BC freshman record with a .367 average while leading the team in on-base percentage and stolen bases (18). He did this while playing centerfield, a position he didn’t play in high school. Those highlight-reel plays on the football field started to show up in the outfield, where his instincts, speed, and football mentality allowed him to take risks that maybe other outfielders wouldn’t.
The speed stood out immediately, as did the quick bat and knowledge of the game. While the height and lack of long levers may work against him in other sports, it can benefit baseball, where a short path to the ball can be beneficial. Frelick’s short quick bat path, knowledge of the strike zone did just that immediately, as indicated by his average as a freshman and a 33-to-22 walk to strikeout ratio over his first two seasons. As a quality up-the-middle defender with a good hitting approach and on-base skills, that would be more than enough to get him on plenty of draft team’s boards this upcoming draft season.
Since the summer, he’s started to take his game to the next level. Ticketed to play in the Cape Cod League, he had to take his game back to the Futures League after Covid shutdown the Cape season. He started the season there with a 17 game hitting streak which helped him put up a season line of .398/.473/.592 with three home runs in 24 games. Those numbers earned him League Top Prospect honors while showing a power uptick. That power has carried over to the college season with four home runs in his first 11 games after hitting just six in his first 54. His home run on Sunday against Auburn tied up the game after BC had started the inning trailing 9-1, eventually helping his team secure a series victory over the SEC school.
“Sal possesses exceptional quickness, speed, versatility, and power, proving that he is the top prospect in the Futures League and the top player in New England,” Manager Bob Macaluso said. “He is a dynamic, impactful player and a bonafide first-round pick!
That power was the last aspect of the game that he needed. Now he looks like the full package with a gamer’s mentality, speed, power, and instincts. Before the season, the #7 pick may have been a stretch for Frelick, but if he continues as he has early in the season, the Royals could be lucky if he gets there.