Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK — Cole Freeman celebrates his game winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning against Florida on Friday
LSU’s middle infield will return for one more year.
One day after shortstop Kramer Robertson announced he’d return for his senior season in Baton Rouge, second baseman Cole Freeman told The Advocate on Thursday he’d do the same.
“Kramer saying he’s going to come back was a big part of it,” Freeman told The Advocate on Thursday. “Playing next to him all year was one of the greatest times of my life and I’d like to have another year doing that. I think you could see how much (the team) grew throughout the year. Weekend by weekend we got better and we learned. We’re not going to have the growing pains next season, we’re going to be much better.”
Freeman, better known as “Drank” to fans and teammates, led the Tigers in batting average (.329), on-base percentage (.427) and batting average on balls in play (.363), occupying the last spot in the Tigers’ batting order for most of the season.
A junior college Gold Glover at second base, Freeman — who started his career at Delgado Community College — began this season at third base before briefly moving to shortstop.
He settled at second base — his most natural position — where he was named to the SEC’s All-Defensive Team and fielded at a .971 clip.
Freeman, one of four Tigers to start all 66 games, was drafted in the 18th round (No. 551 overall) by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He said the team offered him $102,500 — slot value for that pick — which he declined.
The team called back and asked if a more lucrative bonus would sway him, but Freeman had already decided to return. He’ll play summer baseball in the Cape Cod League.
“Just to be drafted was a dream come true for me and my family,” Freeman said. “(But next season) our expectations are just a little bit higher and I think we’ll be able to follow through with it a little more.”
With Freeman’s decision, LSU now returns its leading hitter (Freeman) and its leading home run hitter (Greg Deichmann) from a team that fell two wins short of the College World Series.
Jake Fraley, who said he would sign after he was drafted No. 77 overall by the Tampa Bay Rays, will join Riley Smith as the only two Tigers to sign professional contracts thus far. LSU still awaits the decisions of draftees Jared Poche, Parker Bugg and Jesse Stallings.
Draftees have until July 15 to sign with an organization.