Left hander Kyle Freeland has been to Coors Field "countless times," but Tuesday's visit held an added bonus -- a $2.3 million bonus to be exact.
The eighth overall selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out University of Evansville visited Rockies facilities Tuesday to sign his bonus worth $2.3 million, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis. That number is less than the $3,190,800 assigned slot value for the No. 8 pick but Freeland, a Denver native, was just relieved to officially be a Rockie.
"It's always been my dream to come back to my hometown and play with [the Rockies]," said Freeland. "It's great to get this process over with and I look forward to playing baseball."
That process included "jumping through hoops" for doctors earlier in the day.
Leading up to the Draft, teams speculated about the health of Freeland's throwing elbow after viewing his high school medical reports. While that surely affected his leverage in the negotiating room, it didn't affect the excitement he felt when he was there for the Rockies.
"When the eighth pick was there and they called my name, it was the best feeling in the world," said Freeland. Freeland grew up idolizing Rockies like Larry Walker and Todd Helton before setting the Colorado state single-season strikeout record while attending Thomas Jefferson High School in 2011. The Phillies selected Freeland in the 35th round that year and pushed hard to sign him, but Freeland elected to go the college route.
As a junior this past season, Freeland was named the Missouri Valley Conference's Pitcher of the Year, finishing with 128 strikeouts to 13 walks. But it was the work he did the previous year in the Cape Cod Summer League that first shot him up Draft boards.
Freeland led the league with 48 strikeouts, finishing his season with a 2.25 ERA and Cape League All-Star honors against what he considers to be the top players in the nation.
"Basically every single start I had was against an All-Star team," said Freeland. "So I knew I had to boost my level of confidence and competitiveness to compete with those guys."
Freeland, who will spend the summer in Grand Junction playing Rookie Ball, felt significantly less confident walking through the halls of the Rockies clubhouse Tuesday.
"It's a little intimidating, seeing all the pictures and everything and thinking one day I could be here," said Freeland.
Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.