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Carolina notes: Frazier handles frustrations

Lynchburg outfielder simplifies his approach en route to red-hot July
July 22, 2015

The sound of the bat cracking over Clint Frazier's knee reverberated through City Stadium. Stuck in a slump, the Lynchburg outfielder took his frustration out on a bat for the second time in the Carolina League season.

Frazier was not happy. He wasn't hitting home runs and, more importantly, he wasn't getting on base. For the No. 2 Indians prospect, his lack of production was starting to wear on him in his first season in the Carolina League.

But something changed after breaking his second bat in that mid-June game against Potomac. Frazier looked around and saw the struggles his other teammates were going through, especially fellow outfielder Bradley Zimmer, and realized slumps are sometimes unavoidable in a lengthy season.

So instead of letting those frustrations build up, Frazier began focusing on finding ways to get on base. Instead of swinging for home runs, he worked on hitting the ball to right field. Once known for chasing pitches out of the strike zone, he freed his hands up and started seeing pitches better.

"I'm going to credit a lot of that to the older guys around me and seeing how they handle their failures," Frazier said. "Being around Zimmer was good for me, seeing how much he succeeded. There were times when he struggled. He's an older player who got to play at a higher level than me for a while, and seeing him come out here and struggle at times made me feel like I am human, I am going to struggle, and just being able to have general conversations with him and just see how he went about his business was good for me."

Frazier has reaped the benefits of being more patient at the plate. The reigning Carolina League Player of the Week has reached base in 27 straight games and recorded a hit in nine consecutive games.

"There's highs and lows in this game," said Lynchburg hitting coach Bobby Magallanes. "Mainly, we've just been riding out the process. That's all it is -- just trying to keep him focused and positive and feeling good about himself. He tells me he feels great, and that's awesome. As players, when we feel good, we can even have a bad night, but when we feel confident and good, it doesn't affect us as much."

Frazier hit .216 in 24 games in June, a major reason for breaking a pair of bats. After a six-homer May, the home runs weren't coming at the rate he was accustomed to. But once he got back on track, he's excelled in the first 17 games of July, hitting .393 with an on-base percentage of .458 and an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.032.

Following Zimmer's recent promotion to Double-A Akron, Frazier has taken over as the everyday center fielder and No. 3 hitter in the Hillcats lineup. In the 10 games since Zimmer's promotion, Frazier is hitting 15-for-35 and his OPS is a staggering 1.161.

For the season he's hit 10 homers, driven in 46 runs and drawn 43 walks, which all rank among the top five in the Carolina League.

"I pressed to have the power numbers early in the year," Frazier said. "For me to show my power results, I'm going to have to become a better hitter. The guys are better pitchers, they throw harder, their stuff is better and I'm going to have to develop with them.

"For me to develop the power, I'm going to have to develop the hit tool first. Just going up there and sticking to an approach, and like Mags says, just being a mature hitter at the plate and knowing what I can and cannot swing at is really what's giving me the best opportunity when I step into the box."

In brief

Setting a new mark: Myrtle Beach shortstop Chesny Young set a Carolina League record by reaching base for the 39th consecutive game in Monday night's victory over Salem. The league has officially been tracking on-base streaks since 2009, and Young broke the previous record of 37 games set by Winston-Salem's Carlos Sanchez in 2012. Young leads the league with a .346 batting average and is second to teammate Mark Zagunis in on-base percentage. The Minor League record for reaching safely in consecutive games was set by South Bend Silver Hawks shortstop Andrew Velazquez in 2014 at 74 games.

First to triple digits: Lynchburg outfielder Luigi Rodriguez became the first player in the Carolina League to reach 100 hits after going 2-for-4 in Saturday's contest at Salem. Rodriguez has spent most of the season as the Hillcats' designated hitter and is among the league leaders in batting average (.295, sixth); home runs (11, tied for second); RBIs (44, fifth); stolen bases (23, fifth); slugging percentage (.501, first); extra-base hits (40, second); runs scored (54, fifth); triples (eight, first); and total bases (170, first).

Wheelin' and dealin': Cody Wheeler was an All-American left-hander at Coastal Carolina, drafted in the fifth round in 2010 by the Diamondbacks. But something didn't click during his four seasons in the organization. Picked up by the Orioles in the offseason, Wheeler has excelled as a closer for the Frederick Keys. He is 15-for-16 in save opportunities this season, and his only blown save resulted in a victory as the Keys scored three times in the 10th inning to defeat Lynchburg, 10-8, on May 24.

Damien Sordelett is a contributor to