Colorado Rockies prospect and PuRP No. 4 Kyle Freeland had Double-A New Britain in his sights coming into spring training 2015.
After a brilliant professional debut saw him jump from very good in Rookie Grand Junction to extraordinary in High-A Asheville, Freeland and Rockies fans had every reason to believe he could be on a meteoric rise.
Alas, the best laid plans ...
After suffering from some shoulder fatigue and missing spring training, we learned that Freeland had some bone spurs in his elbow that required surgery.
So instead of testing his mettle against Double-A competition, he finds himself back at Rookie ball, having just completed his first bullpen session Thursday.
"Feeling good. Strong," said Freeland after Grand Junction's second home game. "I've been doing my throwing programs and strengthening programs with the trainers, but right now I feel really strong."
"We've just been doing long toss to get my arm back the the strength it had," he said of his work leading up to Thursday.
This isn't where he or the Rockies organization wanted him to be right now, but let's not allow that to detract from the journey it took even to get here.
"It was definitely a battle going through what I went through," said Freeland on the disappointments he has experienced in 2015. "I did everything I could to stay positive about it. I knew at some point I would probably have to have the surgery, so to get it out of the way early was a good way to look at it. That way from here on out I can just not worry about any problems. That's my mentality. All that happened, but I'm feeling good now."
The time is soon coming when Freeland can stop answering questions about his health and start answering questions about his performances on the mound. Remember: The last time he was out there, he was quite good.
In five games in Grand Junction in 2014, he posted an ERA of 1.56, which actually lowered to 0.83 in his five games after being called up to Asheville.
"That was a massive confidence builder for me," he said. "Coming here and doing well for five starts and then going to Asheville and helping them win a championship. That's definitely a confidence boost, especially your first year in pro ball. Coming into spring training, I was riding off of that and I'm still riding off it, y'know, keeping that same mentality once I get out on that mound."