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Frazier hopes adjustments pay off at plate

Utility man noticed mechanical flaw in swing; Musgrove consults with Taillon; Bucs ink more Draft picks
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- When the Pirates optioned Adam Frazier to Triple-A Indianapolis on June 10, part of their decision was out of Frazier's control. They needed to add another catcher, and Frazier had Minor League options remaining, while other reserves didn't.

Frazier understood that. He also knew he could have made their decision harder.

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PITTSBURGH -- When the Pirates optioned Adam Frazier to Triple-A Indianapolis on June 10, part of their decision was out of Frazier's control. They needed to add another catcher, and Frazier had Minor League options remaining, while other reserves didn't.

Frazier understood that. He also knew he could have made their decision harder.

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"I was kind of the odd man out, so it had to happen," Frazier said on Friday. "At the same time, I could be playing better, too, to make it not happen."

Frazier rejoined the Pirates on Wednesday, when left fielder Corey Dickerson went on family medical emergency leave. During his brief stint in Triple-A, Frazier identified a mechanical flaw that may have been holding him back at the plate. His swing was longer and his timing was off, he said, because his hands were much higher than they had been in the past.

Frazier got some help from his father, Tim, who sent a picture of Frazier facing Braves starter Julio Teheran last season. Frazier noticed his hands were much lower in the picture than they were in the video he was watching at the time.

"I was like, 'Wait a minute. There's a big difference there,'" Frazier said. "So the past three or four days, it kind of clicked, and the swing feels easier and the bat path feels a lot freer."

After hitting .283 with a .750 OPS in 2016-17, Frazier entered Friday batting just .239 with a .673 OPS in the Majors. He was relieved to isolate the sources of his struggles, though he obviously would have preferred to do so earlier.

"Felt like I was seeing the ball fine, that kind of thing. It's not like I was chasing a bunch of pitches or anything like that," Frazier said. "It's just, I wasn't hitting the ones that pitchers were giving me to hit, so hopefully I can change that now.

"Still got a lot of season left, so try to make the most of it."

Draft signings
The Pirates on Friday signed second-round Draft pick Braxton Ashcraft, a right-hander from Robinson (Texas) High School, and third-round pick Connor Kaiser, an infielder from Vanderbilt University. Ashcraft received a $1.825 million bonus, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis, more than the $1,382,400 slot value assigned to the 51st overall pick. Kaiser signed for $625,000, according to Callis, less than his pick's slot value of $673,200.

Ashcraft will begin his professional career in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, while Kaiser was assigned to short-season Class A Short-Season West Virginia.

Pittsburgh signed 29 of their 41 Draft picks. They also signed four non-drafted free agents -- infielders Pat Dorrian, Matt Morrow and Kyle Mottice and outfielder Steven Kraft -- and assigned them to the GCL Pirates.

Dealing with the heat
Right-hander Joe Musgrove, who will start Saturday's game, gave up six runs over 4 1/3 innings and experienced a dip in velocity in a loss to the Reds on Sunday afternoon. Afterward, Musgrove said he felt "drained" by the afternoon heat because it had been so long since his last start in a day game.

Musgrove sought out Jameson Taillon, who has pitched well in day games throughout his career. Musgrove said he learned to get proper sleep two nights before his start, make hydration a priority and exert less energy than usual in the hours before he takes the mound.

"The last outing will be as much of a lesson for me as anything, just getting the experience of pitching like that again," Musgrove said.

Musgrove last faced the D-backs on June 11, when he intentionally plunked Chris Owings at Chase Field. That decision earned him a $1,000 fine from Major League Baseball, as first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Project 34 Day
Trevor Williams and his wife, Jackie, will host about 60 people suffering from spinal cord injuries, along with their families, before the Pirates' 4:05 p.m. ET game against the D-backs on Saturday at PNC Park. The group will watch batting practice on the field and the game from one of the Pirates' World Series suites.

The Pirates Charities 50/50 raffle will also benefit Project 34, a nonprofit organization founded by Williams and inspired by Cory Hahn, Williams' former roommate and teammate at Arizona State University. Hahn, now the D-backs' coordinator of pro scouting, was paralyzed from the chest down after sliding headfirst into second base in 2011.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Adam Frazier, Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams