(Clint Frazier struggled with the RailRiders after the Yankees acquired him from Cleveland at the trade deadline. He’ll be back with the RailRiders to start this season but for how long? Associated Press file)
Our series of the Top 15 prospects who could help the Yankees this summer is nearing its end but we’ve still got three players left to profile. So let’s get into it and look at No. 3, Clint Frazier.
Weight: 190 pounds
40-man roster: No
For the second time in three seasons, Baseball America pegged Frazier as Cleveland’s No. 2 prospect entering a season. He certainly lived up to that billing.
Frazier began the year at Double-A Akron and quickly showed he could handle the upper levels of the minors. In 89 games with the RubberDucks, he hit .276 with 13 homers, 48 RBIs, 25 doubles and an .825 OPS. That performance earned him spots in the MLB All-Star Futures Game at San Diego’s Petco Park and Eastern League All-Star Game before the Indians promoted him to Triple-A Columbus on July 25.
Everything changed six days later when the Indians dealt Frazier and three others to the Yankees for Andrew Miller. Frazier reported to the RailRiders and struck out three times in his Aug. 2 debut, which foreshadowed even more struggles ahead. He hit just .228 with three homers, seven RBIs and struck out 30 times in 25 regular-season games with the RailRiders, a stretch that included a trip to the disabled list thanks to a hamstring injury.
Before Frazier even steps onto the field, what really sticks out about him is his physical makeup. Simply put, this kid is jacked and it’s easy to see where the raw power and bat speed come from. Frazier has the ability to hit upwards of 25-30 home runs and has improved his plate discipline. But his aggressive approach at the sometimes gets him in trouble and can see him chase pitches he shouldn’t, especially breaking balls.
In the field, Frazier is probably more suited to play the corner outfield positions but he’s certainly capable of manning center field thanks to his above-average speed, which also makes him a threat on the base paths. Frazier has a good arm but sometimes unleashes it a little too much and results in errant throws.
Frazier was a hot commodity once he arrived in the Yankees’ organization last year. The Yankees’ video production team came down to PNC Field and profiled him last August. Included are highlights and analysis from RailRiders manager Al Pedrique and outfielder Aaron Judge among others.
Below is Frazier’s first home run with the RailRiders, a no-doubter onto the left-center field pedestrian bridge at PNC Field. Worth noting it came on a full-count changeup from Lucas Giolito, who was Washington’s top pitching prospect at the time
Here’s an at-bat against Syracuse last year. Frazier behind in the count, 1-2, before ripping a triple into the right-center field gap.
And just to give you an idea of Frazier’s body makeup, here are some clips and a profile from one of his offseason workouts courtesy of the YES Network and Jack Curry.
Frazier received a non-roster invite to big league camp but was never really a serious candidate to make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster, despite all the hype. He had a pretty solid spring on the field, hitting .293 with with one home and eight RBIs in 21 games entering tonight’s exhibition at Atlanta, which Frazier traveled for. But what got the most attention was that long red hair, which he ultimately cut three weeks ago but not before it became a much bigger story than it needed to be. I’m assuming you’re well aware of how those series of events transpired over the course of the spring so I’m not going to get into it.
Anyway, Frazier will begin the season with the RailRiders, as expected. He saw the majority of his time with the Yanks in left field this spring, so I presume that’s where he’ll play the most with the RailRiders. But the Yankees are big fans of having their outfield prospects learn all three positions so expect to see Frazier move around.
During my time in Tampa this past week, Frazier hit second in the lineup every game he played at the minor league complex. I’m guessing that will be the case once the regular season starts Thursday, which would seem to indicate a similar line of thinking that the Yankees had with Judge when he was with the RailRiders last season.
As for when Frazier could potentially hit the Bronx, I think he’s going to spend a good portion of the year with the RailRiders. He simply hasn’t proven himself at Triple-A and quite frankly, that’s OK. This kid is still just 22 years old with only 30 Triple-A games under his belt. There’s no need to rush him, despite how excited Yankees fans are about seeing him in pinstripes.
With that being said, a strong showing early in the season could make for some decisions from the Yankees. Yes, Judge is slated to be the everyday right fielder but he’s still far from proven. Either way, Frazier could at the very least be considered for a September call-up once the rosters expand. But if he puts it all together on the field and shows he’s matured off of it, that debut could come much sooner.