The Chattanooga Lookouts regular season came to an end on Sunday (they begin their playoff run on Tuesday). James Free capped things off with a double, run, RBI, and he was hit by a pitch. Today he was named the final week’s Southern League Player of the Week for his efforts in Chattanooga against Birmingham.
The first game of the week didn’t go well, with Free going 0-3 with a walk. He then ran off a 5-game hitting streak the rest of the way. On Wednesday he picked up a triple and an RBI. He followed that up with a 3-hit night on Thursday with a double, walk, and an RBI. Friday night saw him pick up three more hits that included a double and a homer. He also walked and drove in three runs. Free homered again on Saturday.
403 FT BOMB JAMES FREEEEE?? pic.twitter.com/utzgeOnSHJ
— Chattanooga Lookouts (@ChattLookouts) September 17, 2023
For the week he would go 10-23 with six extra-base hits. That led to a .435 batting average, a .519 on-base percentage thanks to three walks and a hit by pitch, and he slugged .913. Free scored six runs and he drove in seven.
It’s been a bit of a breakout season for the 25-year-old. In the past he split time between catching and playing first base, with more time coming behind the plate than at first. That limited the amount of playing time he was getting, racking up under 250 plate appearances in each of his three professional seasons prior to 2023.
In 2023 he only caught three games and didn’t start any of them – catching just six total innings. He split time between first base and designated hitter. That allowed him to get 489 plate appearances in 117 games. With more playing time, and more consistent playing time (and probably less wear and tear on the body from not being behind the plate), Free hit .268/.364/.456 while hitting 24 doubles, 2 triples, and a career best 17 home runs – nearly matching the 18 he had on his career entering the season.
Here are the other Players of the Week this season from the farm system:
- Andrew Abbott – Southern League – April 10-16
- Blake Dunn – Midwest League – April 24-30
- Noelvi Marte – Southern League – May 1-7
- Matt McLain – International League – May 1-7
- Noelvi Marte – Southern League – May 16-21
- Tommy Eveld – Southern League – May 22-28
- Christian Encarnacion-Strand – International League – June 5-11
- Connor Phillips – Southern League – June 5-11
- Connor Phillips – Southern League – June 12-18
- Rece Hinds – Southern League – June 12-18
- Esmith Pineda – Arizona Complex League – June 26 – July 2
- Brooks Crawford – Midwest League – July 3-9
- Blake Dunn – Southern League – July 17-23
- Connor Phillips – International League – July 17-23
- Blake Dunn – Southern League – August 21-27
- Teddy Stankiewicz – Southern League – August 21-27
- Ethan O’Donnell – Florida State League – August 21-27
- James Free – Southern League – September 11-17