Back in 2006 fifth-year seniors like Freese were allowed to sign with MLB organizations before the draft if their college team’s season was already over. Freese played for South Alabama and they weren’t expected to make the NCAA tournament, but a late improvement in their RPI ranking changed that and extended their season to the point that he couldn’t sign before the draft.
“If we didn’t make the regional, I was probably going to be a Red Sox before the draft,” Freese told Speier. “I was close. Obviously, I’m glad the way things worked out.”
So instead of signing with the Red Sox as a pre-draft free agent Freese went into the draft pool and was picked by the Padres in the ninth round. He signed for just $6,000, which is an incredibly low bonus for a ninth-round pick and likely less than he could have gotten from the Red Sox. Eighteen months later he was traded to the Cardinals for Jim Edmonds and the rest is history.