When he was attending Thomas Jefferson High School, Rockies lefthander Kyle Freeland remembers walking into the school’s gym, and seeing the jersey of NFL tight end Daniel Graham, a Thomas Jefferson alum, hanging over the court.
“I can remember looking up there and seeing his jersey,” said Freeland. “It was pretty cool.”
It was the only number retired by the school.
Emphasis on was.
Monday, Kyle Freeland joined Graham in that special recognition of having his number retired by Thomas Jefferson High School.
“It’s more than I expected,” said Freeland. “I didn’t think things would move this quickly. For Thomas Jefferson to reach out and retire my jersey this early in my career is very humbling.”
But then Freeland, who did go on the disabled list Monday with a blister issue that should cost him only one start, is doing more things in his career than many would have expected.
The Rockies first-round selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft – the eighth player taken overall – Freeland is only in his third big-league season, but the left-hander has established himself as one of the top pitchers in the game.
He has conquered the challenge of Coors Field, compiling a record-setting 2.40 ERA in the ballpark a year ago, when he also set the Rockies record for season ERA at 2.85, and finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting.
And when he picked up the Opening Day victory at Miami this year, he equaled the franchise record set by Ubaldo Jimenez of with his ninth consecutive win (in 12 starts), compiling a 2.18 ERA in 12 consecutive quality starts.
For all his success, Freeland has not forgotten the foundation that was laid for him at Thomas Jefferson.
“I had good memories there, good ties,” said Freeland. “My friends I was extremely close to in high school, I am still extremely close to now. They come to all my starts. I still talk to some of the staff there. I am still in contact with my coaches from (Thomas Jefferson).”
Troy Humphrey, who coached Freeland his first three years in high school, is now the baseball coach at Eaglecrest High School in the Cherry Creek School District, and Robby Bales, who was the head coach Freeland’s senior year, is now the head coach at Colorado Mines.