|© MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
MWL notes: Indians' Frazier finding his way05/01/2014 12:00 PM ET
By Curt Rallo / Special to MiLB.com
It seemed so easy.
Cleveland Indians first-round Draft pick Clint Frazier, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed-hitting center fielder, stepped to the plate last summer for his first at-bat as a professional in the Arizona Rookie League.
He swung and the ball sailed over the outfield fence.
Frazier, who opened the 2013 season at Loganville (Ga.) High School with six homers in seven games, thought the pro game would be just as easy to figure out after that first at-bat in Arizona.
"I thought I was going to go on and hit about 30 homers after that," Frazier said of this pro debut. "I only hit five."
Frazier, grounded in reality and owning a better understanding of the challenges of pro ball, has only played 13 games this season, held back after suffering a hamstring injury in his first Spring Training appearance. He's 11-for-49 with two triples and a double in his full-season debut for the Lake County Captains, still searching for his first long ball.
Lake County manager Mark Budzinski warned it's far too early to assess Frazier's hitting but that the 19-year-old possesses that rare combination of speed and power.
"He's got five tools," Budzinski said of Frazier. "He's coachable. He listens. He asks a lot of questions, which I like. You don't always get that from someone who's never failed before.
"Coming from college is one thing, but high school, maybe you're playing 18 or 20 games. Here, you do that in three weeks. The biggest thing for him is learning about the grind of the season and knowing your body, knowing what pitchers are trying to do to you at the plate, how to position yourself in the field. There's a lot you have to learn."
Frazier said he got a heads-up on what to expect in pro ball from Oakland's Brandon Moss, who also played ball at Loganville High. Moss started talking to Frazier early on about life in baseball and how to handle different situations.
"Brandon Moss reached out to me at a young age, and he saw my potential and that I had the opportunity to do something," Frazier said. "As I started to get older, he talked to me about the Minor League life and what the Draft process would be like. I can't say 'thank you' enough to him."
Moss' high school coaches told him that the red-haired, freckle-faced Frazier would be breaking all of his offensive records. Indeed, Frazier broke every one, except batting average.
"My coaches never told me they said that to Brandon about me until I got drafted," Frazier said. "They tried to knock me off cloud nine as many times as they could, to make me realize I'm human and I'm not better than anybody else just because of who I am or what I've accomplished, and I don't feel that way at all."
Frazier said he's learning to deal with the challenges of professional baseball.
"I think a lot of it comes with maturity," Frazier said of handling adversity. "I have to be able to come out here and handle the failure and success and be able to mask when I'm struggling and make it look like I'm not struggling. I think going through the Draft process helped me mature as a young man."
Budzinski loves the effort and potential.
"Clint's been doing a great job," Budzinski said. "He's working hard and having some good at-bats. He's going to be a heck of a ballplayer.
"When you have his kind of power and his kind of speed … that's what gets you a first pick with the Indians organization. He runs well. His outfield play is improving every day. He's got pop in his bat, and he's got quick hands. He's a special player."
Streaking: Peoria's Nick Petree pitched 17 scoreless innings over his first three starts, the longest season-opening scoreless streak by a Peoria pitcher since Justin Pope pitched 17 2/3 scoreless to start the 2002 campaign. Petree pitched 38 1/3 scoreless innings in a row for Missouri State in 2012, the year he led NCAA Division I pitchers with a 1.01 ERA and was named the Louisville Slugger Player of the Year.
Road warriors: Great Lakes is only 5-8 at home this season but 9-2 on the road. The Loons are thriving at the plate away from Dow Diamond, hitting .281 on the road versus .258 at home. Great Lakes has hit seven of its nine homers on the road. Great Lakes pitchers are also performing better on the road with a 3.45 ERA versus a 4.85 ERA at home.
No-hitter nemesis: Three different South Bend pitchers -- Braden Shipley, Blake Perry and Aaron Blair -- took no-hitters into the seventh inning in a stretch of four games. Shipley's no-hit bid came against Dayton and ended with the leadoff batter in the seventh. Lake County's Anthony Santander broke up both Perry and Blair's attempts, each time with two outs. "Anthony broke up two no-hitters in three days," Lake County manager Mark Budzinski said. "He's got two broken bats to show for it, but we'll take it."