Watch Listen Up: Interview With Tyler Freeman of the Cleveland Indians

Get better at the sports you play and the life you lead at STACK. Improve your training, nutrition and lifestyle with daily

On this episode of Listen Up we head back to Spring Training and catch up with Tyler Freeman of the Cleveland Indians. Bailey asks about the decision to go to the MLB straight out of high school in California and the special bond he has with his family over baseball. Freeman talks about his time in the minors and how he stayed in baseball rhythm through the pandemic. They even break down what is so special about a Dodger Dog. Baseball season is upon us, so make sure you Listen Up!

Bailey Arredondo:

All right. Okay, here we go. Back for another edition of Listen Up and we're heading back to Arizona and spring training as baseball season is upon us. We are joined by Tyler Freeman of the Cleveland Indians. Tyler, thanks for coming on the program today.

Read More >>

On this episode of Listen Up we head back to Spring Training and catch up with Tyler Freeman of the Cleveland Indians. Bailey asks about the decision to go to the MLB straight out of high school in California and the special bond he has with his family over baseball. Freeman talks about his time in the minors and how he stayed in baseball rhythm through the pandemic. They even break down what is so special about a Dodger Dog. Baseball season is upon us, so make sure you Listen Up!

Transcript of Interview Below

Bailey Arredondo:

All right. Okay, here we go. Back for another edition of Listen Up and we're heading back to Arizona and spring training as baseball season is upon us. We are joined by Tyler Freeman of the Cleveland Indians. Tyler, thanks for coming on the program today.

Tyler Freeman:

Thank you guys for having me.

Bailey Arredondo:

Let's start with California in you. We're both Cali boys, so you grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, correct? Were you born and raised there?

Tyler Freeman:

Yes, I was. I was born in Rancho Cucamonga, lived there pretty much my entire life. A couple of years ago, I just finally, I moved out to Texas, but growing up in California, it was awesome. It's about hour east of Los Angeles, and just like you said before, the weather is perfect.

Bailey Arredondo:

What sports teams did you like growing up? Did you have any favorite athletes?

Tyler Freeman:

I was a diehard Dodger fan growing up. I didn't really pay attention to any other sports. I was a big baseball guy. Me and my dad ... Me and my family would always go to Dodger games. In Rancho Cucamonga at the time, it was the High A Dodgers who were there. We would go to all the minor league games pretty much every day and every weekend. It was fun.

Bailey Arredondo:

Now, something about Dodger games that a lot of people have talked to me about is Dodger Dogs. I mean, do you think it's just a glorified hot dog or do you think there's something special about a Dodger Dog?

Tyler Freeman:

There is something special. I think it's maybe when you're sitting down at the field and enjoying the game, it just tastes a little different. It does for sure.

Bailey Arredondo:

Right. Now, your high school baseball team was really good. You ended up winning the state championship your senior year, but your brother also played on that team too, correct? What was that experience like?

Tyler Freeman:

Oh, it was the most fun I've had playing baseball. I mean, it was playing with my brother was the icing on top. Playing two years with him and he was a second baseman and I was a shortstop. We were always smack talking, we were trying to pick each other up too all the time and you it was fun. Then when we won the whole thing, we got to actually go to Dodger Stadium, and win it there, it was surreal,

Bailey Arredondo:

Oh man, I mean, childhood dream right there sitting in the stands and you get to actually take the field as so many great Dodgers have. Speaking of your brother, your family is really good at baseball and softball, right? Your mom played, did your sister play?

Tyler Freeman:

My mom played, she was an alternate on one of the first USA softball teams. My dad played a little high school baseball. He claims that's where I got all my talent, but I think it was the mom, and my sister, she went to Grand Canyon University. Played softball there for a couple of years and then transferred over to the University of San Diego to play her last couple of years there. Then my brother's with the Rangers right now. He's catching there.

Bailey Arredondo:

Wow. Who's the best athlete in the family then?

Tyler Freeman:

You know what, I'm sorry, my brother keeps ... He'll always say it's him, but I think it's me. I think it's me.

Bailey Arredondo:

Well, what led you to playing shortstop? Is that just the position you gravitated towards when you were younger or was there a specific reason for it?

Tyler Freeman:

Younger, honestly, I didn't really touch the outfield when I was younger. It was mainly the infield. It was short, third, bouncing around, second, first, even I caught like a little bit, not much, but it was a majority up the middle and I just kind of just stuck with it. To be honest, it's been the same since.

Bailey Arredondo:

Now, I'm curious on that transition from high school to when you know you wanted to go play professional baseball, who was the biggest influence and had the greatest impact on you getting to the majors?

Tyler Freeman:

That was my dad, for sure. He would always tell me, hey, like it was maybe my sophomore year of high school. He was like, "Hey, you can go far in this game, as far as it's going to take you." I'm like, "You know what? Let's get going. Let's work for it." He guided me the entire way. I give much credit to my dad. He was pushing me day in, day out. He's like, "If you want it, I'm going to push you for it," and that's what he did, and I give lots of credit to my dad.

Bailey Arredondo:

Now, you played for a variety of teams your first few years in the minors. Was there a team or season that stood out to you and why?

Tyler Freeman:

Probably Mahoning Valley season. It was my first short season. Just getting my feet wet in pro ball. It was like the first stadium setting. It wasn't like the AZL, where it was just the AZL, but it was, we got to travel and stuff, which kind of brought my adrenaline going and kind of really feeling like pro ball for once. Once we got going there, it was fun playing for a great manager, a great team. I mean, we had a really good team there, and that was probably the most fun.

Bailey Arredondo:

Did you have a specific moment or pitch maybe where you realized, "Okay, it's not high school in Rancho Cucamonga anymore? This is the pros."

Tyler Freeman:

Definitely. It was as soon as I got drafted in the AZL. My first at-bat was against Sam Hentges. He threw a fastball probably 97, 98. I'm like, "Okay, welcome to pro ball." Then he threw that big hammer curveball, and I'm like, "Yeah, this is pro ball."

Bailey Arredondo:

How long did it take you to get adapted to that? Did it take just a few games? I mean, baseball's such a repetitive sport. I'm sure it didn't take too long.

Tyler Freeman:

Right, the Indians, they do a great job of getting guys going pretty quick. We got many live at-bats before I got in my first AZL game, and they prepared me from the start. I felt like from my first game, I was ready to get going.

Bailey Arredondo:

Nice. Now, I want to talk about 2020, I mean, worst year ever. What went through your mind when that total season was canceled? Did you have any doubts about baseball or what your plans were?

Tyler Freeman:

I remember when it happened, we were in a meeting and I think the basketball case hit first, and then it started hitting us like, hey, this could be real. They might shut everything down. Then we had like another meeting the next day saying, "Hey, you guys are going home," and that hit me. I was like, "What am I going to do? We're not having a season this year? Are we going to have a lost season because of it?" Even when we went back home, nothing was ... We weren't allowed to do anything because everything was shut down. Then luckily, I found some low-key spots to work and train and stuff. Then get the call saying, "Hey, we're going to put an alternate site," and then the rest is history.

Bailey Arredondo:

Now, did you go back to Texas during that time? What kept you in baseball rhythm?

Tyler Freeman:

California shut down a little bit more, so I went back to Texas and like I said, I found some great guys that just opened their facilities for me and some other pro guys. Obviously, we were being super careful and stuff, but it was much credit to them. It was one of my good friends, Dustin, who opened up his facility and then Rocky, who opened up his workout facility for us to just prepare for maybe a season that could happen or not.

Bailey Arredondo:

Right. How have you liked the Texas lifestyle? A lot different than California?

Tyler Freeman:

It is different for sure. I can wear a cowboy hat and stuff, and I feel a little more comfortable about that, but no, it's a much different vibe than California. California's got that perfect weather. You can go outside and wear a tank top, whether it's in the morning or at night, and in Texas, you got to adapt a little bit. It could get cold sometimes, but for the most part, it's good weather out there.

Bailey Arredondo:

Yeah. I went to TCU up in Fort Worth, and I have to say Texas food is no joke at all.

Tyler Freeman:

It's no joke. That's where I was committed. I was committed to TCU.

Bailey Arredondo:

Oh really?

Tyler Freeman:

Yeah, out of high school. Yes. Yeah.

Bailey Arredondo:

Okay, nice. If you didn't go to the pros, you would have gone to TCU?

Tyler Freeman:

TCU. Yes, sir.

Bailey Arredondo:

Oh, wow. Okay. Good stuff. Well, hey, TCU's lost, so I think you've made the right decision. Let's talk about goals for this season. I mean, what areas of your game are you looking to improve on? What are you most excited for?

Tyler Freeman:

It was every part of my game I can improve on. Definitely want to improve ... Been improving and working on the arm strength a lot. Felt like that's improved probably the most out of my game. I know a lot of people talk about strength and power, I kind of view that as it's going to come with an age, definitely working out and stuff, getting stronger for sure. I put on about 10 pounds of muscle, but I know I'm just going to let that play out. Just crafting in on being more fluid in the infield, more versatile than bouncing around from second, to third, to short. I'm learning those positions well, and just keep swinging it. Just been working on the swing, sticking with the line drive approach. It's all been pretty much working out.

Bailey Arredondo:

What's the experience been like since you've gotten to Arizona for spring training? What can and can't you guys do? Are you getting a lot of on-field reps on?

Tyler Freeman:

We really are. Like I said, the Indians, do a great job, even just for keeping everyone healthy. They're reminding everyone to wear your masks and they want to keep everyone on the field, for sure. We haven't really took a step back. We're getting many reps, many swings, many ground balls, and it's been great. Getting a lot of work done here.

Bailey Arredondo:

Well, let's end with this Tyler. Now that you've had a few years under your belt, a few seasons, what advice would you give yourself coming out of high school, knowing what you know now?

Tyler Freeman:

Oh man. Definitely, in high school ... I definitely, you see the Scouts in the stands, you see all that stuff and maybe in high school, I would tell myself, "Hey, just relax a little bit. If it's going to happen, it'll happen. Just keep doing what you can as in working hard off the field, doing extra. I mean, if you take an extra round of BP or get that extra lift in, keep crushing that stuff. Keep doing what you can off the field and let the on the field stuff handle itself."

Bailey Arredondo:

Well, your journey is just getting started and that's one of the beauties of coming out of high school, going to the majors. You have so much time to room and grow in baseball. Tyler, good luck to you the rest of the season, and we look forward to keeping in contact. Thanks for coming on the program.

Tyler Freeman:

Absolutely. Thank you guys for having me on.

 


Topics: BASEBALL | INTERVIEWS | MLB | LISTENUP | LISTEN UP