Freeland solid vs. D-backs in 1st spring start

Freeland solid vs. D-backs in 1st spring start

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Denver native Kyle Freeland, in his first Cactus League start for his hometown Rockies, gave up three runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings during Colorado's 6-3 Cactus League victory over the D-backs on Thursday afternoon at Salt River Fields.

Freeland, who went to Thomas Jefferson High School and was the Rockies' No. 1 pick in the 2014 Draft out of the University of Evansville, struck out one and walked one. The left-hander allowed two home runs -- Welington Castillo's fifth of the spring and Rickie Weeks Jr.'s second -- in the fourth inning. He is ranked by as the Rockies' No. 8 prospect.

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Freeland was helped by two standout defensive plays. Third baseman Nolan Arenado made a backhand grab to start a third-to-first double play to end the second inning, and left fielder Gerardo Parra fielded David Peralta's fly ball and got Phil Gosselin at the plate to end the third.

"It was really nice to get a big league start in Spring Training, and having those guys make plays behind me the way they did just showed how amazing players they are and what they'll do for even a Minor Leaguer that's coming up for a spot start," said the 22-year-old Freeland, who has been pitching for Triple-A Albuquerque this spring but hasn't been told if he'll begin the season there or at Double-A Hartford.

The Rockies also displayed their power against D-backs starter Braden Shipley, who gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings. Mark Reynolds opened the second inning with his third homer, and Charlie Blackmon added two runs on his fifth homer later in the frame.

It was significant that Reynolds' homer came in a right-on-right matchup. The Rockies have Reynolds and the left-handed-hitting Ben Paulsen sharing first base, but manager Walt Weiss doesn't want a straight platoon. Reynolds' righty power and the inviting left-field wall at Coors Field make for a potentially high-scoring combination.

"He looks like a good hitter to me," Weiss said. "I really like the approach he's taking right now. He's really using the whole field, and I've seen him put together some really good at-bats this spring and even draw some tough walks. He's got a plan up there."

Up next for the D-backs: The D-backs play at Chase Field for the first time this year on Friday as they open a two-game exhibition set with the Royals at 6:40 p.m. MST (watch for free on MLB.TV). Rubby De La Rosa, who is slated to start the season's fourth game, will get the ball. Outfielder A.J. Pollock (elbow) is expected to return to the lineup, marking the first time he has played in a big league game since March 8.

Up next for the Rockies: Right-hander Christian Bergman will start against the Mariners on Friday at 8:10 p.m. MT at Peoria Stadium in the Rockies' only Cactus League night game (watch for free on MLB.TV).

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.