BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #2: Clint Frazier

Coming in at number two on our 2017 Top Prospect Countdown is Clint Frazier. Ever since his arrival to the Yankees organization last August, Frazier has been exciting to keep up with, both on and off the field. The young outfielder will likely be the successor to Brett Gardner in left field. It's doubtful that he'll make it to the majors this year, but Frazier will bring both his talent, and enthusiasm to the Bronx sooner rather than later. If there's any player within the Yankees farm system who is made for the bright lights of New York, it's Frazier. Trading away Andrew Miller was tough, but if Frazier pans out the way he is projected to, the Yankees could possibly have a perennial All-Star in the making manning left field for years to come.

Photo Credit: Ken Inness/MILB.com 


Breakdown:

Selected fifth overall by the Cleveland Indians in the 2013 draft, Frazier was almost immediately faced with high expectations. Though he had committed to play for the University of Georgia, the Indians offered Frazier a signing bonus that he could not refuse. For the 2013 season, the Indians assigned Frazier to their Arizona League affiliate team, where he hit .297 with five home runs and 28 RBIs in 44 games. Frazier proceeded to quickly work his way through the Indians farm system. At the time of his trade to the Bombers, the then 21-year old was already at the Triple-A level.

Throughout the course of the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Frazier played at the Single-A level. Over the course of these two seasons, the youngster exhibited his true potential as a power hitter. In 2014, Frazier hit .266 with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs. His numbers improved even more in 2015, as is evidenced by his .285 batting average, 16 home runs, and 72 RBIs. One major downside for Frazier at the plate, however, is he does strike out with a high level of frequency, doing so 161 times in 2014 and 125 times in 2015. Many scouts have raved about Frazier's impressive bat speed. Frazier's bat speed and overall muscle strength are two of the main factors that made him such an attractive option for the Bombers.

Fast forward to 2016, and Frazier earned himself yet another promotion. This time, the right hander with the quick bat would be moving up to Double-A. Prior to his subsequent Triple-A promotion, Frazier would hit .276 with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs over the course of 89 games with the Indians Double-A affiliate. After only one week in Triple-A, Frazier received some of the biggest news of his career. With the Indians in the thick of a pennant race, they made the bold move of mortgaging the future for their present. In exchange for stud reliever Andrew Miller, the Indians sent Frazier, and pitchers Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen to the Yankees. Soon after the trade, Frazier was assigned to the Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders. Frazier's 2016 numbers with Scranton certainly don't jump off the page (.228 average with 3 home runs and 7 RBIs in 25 games), but he will be a player to watch moving forward.

Projection:

The 2017 season will be consequential for the young power hitter. In his first full season with the Yankees organization, we can only hope that Frazier will make a number of strides forward. It is indisputable that Frazier has the raw talent to be successful. The question now is whether he can harness said talent and translate it into on the field success.

As previously mentioned, one of Frazier's obvious weaknesses is his tendency to strike out quite often. We need look no further than Frazier's former Scranton teammate, Aaron Judge. Following Judge's August call up, he struck out at an alarmingly high rate. While Judge did showcase his power ability, he struck out in roughly 60% of his at bats. It is true that power hitters tend to strike out a lot, but Frazier needs to minimize this weakness of his. Due to Frazier's impressive bat speed, the Yankees would also like to see more power at the Triple-A level. With Scranton, Frazier will be facing a tougher level of competition. If he can make some adjustments that will enable him to turn that bat speed into more home runs and less ground balls, that will have been an expedient improvement.

Frazier's major league debut is likely coming sooner rather than later. While his contribution this year may be limited, if players ahead of him go down with injuries, Frazier could be called up this summer. Assuming his development progresses positively, 2018 or 2019 should be the season in which Frazier is starting for the Yankees in left field. By 2019, the Yankees will hopefully be a contender. In an ideal world, the other Baby Bombers-- Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, and James Kaprielian (just to name a few)-- will have fully blossomed into stars. These youngsters, along with a few highly anticipated free agent signings should put the Yankees in a place to compete for a championship once again. If such a scenario were to play out, Frazier would be a part of it.

MLB Comparison: With incredible bat speed, good size, and likely projecting as a left fielder, a solid comparison to Frazier would be the Mets stud outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.


Article by Steven Eareckson

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