Despite still being a teenager and having never played a single game as high as Class A, Clint Frazier is easily recognizable to Indians fans. With his trademark red hair and explosive right-handed swing, the outfielder has the tools to be a permanent fixture in Cleveland in the not-so-distant future.
The Tribe selected the Georgia native fifth overall in last year's Draft, and Frazier posted a .297/.362/.502 slash line in two months in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
MiLB.com spoke with Frazier about phoning big leaguers for advice, swinging plastic yellow bats as a toddler and the day he walked into a Major League clubhouse for the first time.
MiLB.com: It's been a crazy 12 months for you. How would you describe the journey you've been on in the past year?
Clint Frazier: It was just a whirlwind. Everything went from me just being a normal high school kid to being employed by the Cleveland Indians. I'm out here every single day on my own trying to make each day a purposeful day and make it to the Major Leagues.
MiLB.com: When did it really sink it?
Frazier: I would say whenever I got back from Rookie ball. It didn't really sink in when I was out here [in Arizona] because I just felt like I was playing baseball on a normal daily basis. But when I got back, people started treating me a little bit differently. It felt like something happened for them to notice the accomplishment that I had achieved in the process of going through the Draft.
MiLB.com: What were your biggest achievements in those first few months?
Frazier: The main highlight was getting the opportunity to go out there and play baseball every day. The other one was my first at-bat, hitting a home run. I thought after that first at-bat I was going to hit 30 home runs that season.
But it was a quick reality check that that's not going to happen, that I'm not going to hit a home run every time I step up to the plate. I just had to realize that if I step on the field I might not be the best one on the field every time, but I still have to believe I am.
MiLB.com: Mentally, how difficult was it going from Loganville, Ga., where you were the best player on your team, to pro ball, where you were just another player?
Frazier: It's definitely a humbling experience. It knocks you off cloud nine, but it's a reality check -- you need to realize you're no better than everyone else there and that you still have to come out and work every single day like the rest of them. No one cares that I was the fifth overall pick. I'm just another player reporting to the Cleveland Indians, and I still have to work and get there every day like everyone else.
MiLB.com: What struggles did you face that first year?
Frazier: Just realizing that I'm not going to come out and hit .500 every day. I hit .297 in Rookie ball and that was the first time I'd ever hit under .400 in a season. That was a hard pill to swallow. There is going to be someone on the mound who is just as good or better than me and they can set me down when I step into that box.
MiLB.com: Did you find that you still got pitched around at times, like last year in high school?
Frazier: Yes, I remember playing a team and I watched two guys in front of me get walked on eight straight pitches on eight straight fastballs and I step into the box and he throws me four straight curveballs and strikes me out. It kinda got frustrating at times, but it's also them showing me respect, that they're not going to just throw me fastballs every time.
MiLB.com: Did you find you had to make any changes to your swing or mechanics, or do you still have that slight loft to your swing?
Frazier: I had a toe tap coming into Rookie ball, and as instructs came around I developed a little leg kick. During the offseason, I stuck with the leg kick, but I opened my stance a little bit more and I'm standing up a little bit taller. I'm still doing that right now and it seems to be working.
MiLB.com: How exciting is that?
Frazier: It's very exciting just to be out here every single day and get to see some of the Major Leaguers out here, and it gives me the opportunity to continue to go out and strive to get to where they are.
MiLB.com: You've just started your first Spring Training with the Indians. What was it like the first time you walked into a locker room full of big leaguers?
Frazier: It was a good experience. For them to be standing there in the red wigs and to introduce me the way they did ... I didn't know how to approach the guys. I was a high school kid walking into a Major League locker room and for them to wear the wigs, it really took a lot of pressure off me trying to approach them the right way.
MiLB.com: Did you get any face time with the veterans?
Frazier: When I was 8 years old, I grew up around Jeff Francoeur. He has just signed with the Indians, so I had an opportunity to sit down and talk with him. I'm actually going to sit down with him and his mother-in-law and have dinner later in the month. I got to talk with Michael Brantley and Mike Aviles and a bunch of guys and they were very welcoming.
I walked down from the locker room to the field with Jason Giambi and got a quick picture with him. After he was done hitting BP, he came over and talked to me and gave me his number and just said if you need anything, just call me. I ended up calling him a couple times during the Rookie ball season.
MiLB.com: What did you ask him?
Frazier: He's been in the game so long, so it's not hard to ask him a question about what you're going through because more than likely he's gone through it once or more times. I just called him one day and just spoke to him about me not having as much success at the plate as I did in high school and how to handle that, and he gave me a few pointers.
MiLB.com: Entering 2014, what are you primarily working on?
Frazier: From a defensive standpoint, just trying to get better every single day -- working on my routes, my reads, my throws. And from an offensive standpoint, I want to work on my pitch selection and make sure I'm swinging at good pitches, because good things will happen if I swing at the right pitches.
MiLB.com: I read that you want to be like Mike Trout, a player who can impact the game in so many different ways. What do you take the most pride in?
Frazier: Definitely hitting. That is the highlight of my day every single time I step onto the field. I want to be known as a guy who, when he walks into the box, should be feared in all aspects. It's awesome being able to go out there and hit a home run on a Major League field.
MiLB.com: I've heard that you added a little muscle since you signed. Where are you now?
Frazier: I was 184 pounds when I got drafted and I weighed in at 207 when I got into Spring Training. I'm aiming to put on just a few more pounds. I was a little heavier at home, I was 212, but I started running toward the end to make sure I was in good shape, so I dropped a few pounds. As the season goes on, I know I'll lose some weight and come back down to this weight where I feel comfortable at.
MiLB.com: Do you ever still get a chance to be a teenager or did you have to mature quickly?
Frazier: I came up a little bit differently than anyone else. I had to worry about the things I would do, because if a team found out about it they could look at it the wrong way. I had to be very selective about what I tweeted. I had to be very cautious about who I hung out with because I didn't want to come across people that didn't care about what I was doing or hanging around the wrong people, and that definitely helped me mature.
Just being put in the spotlight and always watching what I was doing and making sure that I was doing the right thing, I didn't really have a chance to live a normal teenage life through my senior year, just because of the process I was going through going through the Draft. Then I had to pick an agent and a financial advisor, and then I got handed a couple million dollars, and things changed very quickly. I had to grow up a lot faster.
MiLB.com: How much of that side of your personality -- being a good person on and off the field -- is a result of your upbringing and the role your parents played?
Frazier: A ton. My parents take pride in always making sure I am doing the right thing and that I'm going to help people out. They made sure to give me the right opportunities, so I was ready for whenever this happened.
MiLB.com: How are they handling you not being home anymore?
Frazier: It's a struggle, but it's also very exciting for them because I'm getting the opportunity to live out my dream. I'm playing professional baseball, so there's no wrong in that. If things go right, I'll be in Cleveland one day and hopefully, they'll be living out there, watching me play every day.
MiLB.com: They came with you for the Draft in Secaucus, N.J. What do you remember about that day?
Frazier: It was a very stressful day. The thing I remember the most was having a couple hundred people text me, saying, 'How are you feeling? Where do you think you'll be going?' I didn't respond to any of them apart from a select few, just because I didn't want to be thinking about that. I wanted to enjoy the day.
I ended up turning my phone off just so I could stay away from everyone else. There were a lot of mock drafts going on that day, and I didn't want to read them and get upset because I was going to somewhere I didn't think I would. Whenever I got called it was just a big relief of pressure because it had finally happened.
MiLB.com: Did you have any interactions with the Indians before that day?
Frazier: I sat down with their area scout, but that was really it until the high school playoffs when I had [Indians executive vice president and general manager] Chris Antonetti come to a game. I went 2-for-3 in the first game, but I went 0-for-3 in the next game and I got thrown out stealing, so I didn't think I made a very good impression on him. But my agent seemed to think the Indians liked me a lot and that they would take me if I was open, and he proved to be right.
MiLB.com: What's your earliest memory playing baseball?
Frazier: My mom always laughs at this because she was the one who taught me how to hit. My dad would be working and my mom was at home, and she would throw to me in the front yard with the yellow Playmate bat that was bigger than me. She was the one that got me started on baseball, so I can give the credit to her when people asked me how I learned to hit. I started baseball at 3 or 4, so I was very young.
MiLB.com: You already have so many fans cheering you on to succeed. What message do you have for them?
Frazier: I want them to know that they can go out there and expect me to give it my all every single time I step on the field. I'm going to be going 100 percent if I fail and 100 percent if I succeed. I'm fiery, very fiery, just like my red hair. I have a lot of passion for the game and that's just how I go about my business, going about it as hard as I can and making sure I'm doing it the right way.