First look: Indians 2013 Draft pick Clint Frazier
Bernie Pleskoff's initial scouting report on Cleveland's top pick
I shook Clint Frazier's hand in the Arizona League Indians dugout before a game recently. Honestly, I thought I would have to visit a hand specialist or enter physical therapy. That's how strong he is.
Frazier was the fifth player selected in the first round of this past June's First-Year Player Draft by the Cleveland Indians. He had record-breaking success at Loganville High School in Georgia. Frazier took home a treasure trove of honors, including the Jackie Robinson Award as the 2012 Perfect Game Player of the Year.
Frazier has a background as a pitcher and a third baseman, but most recently he has played center field. That's his position in the AFL.
Frazier is already rated No. 3 among the Indians' Top 20 Prospects. His grit, makeup, size and energy remind me of Lenny Dykstra. If Dykstra was "Nails," Frazier is "Nails Plus."
Frazier brings strength, speed and power, plus an overt love of baseball to his game. He's the guy you want next to you in a foxhole, or on your team. He's that competitive and impressive. But he'll get even better.
At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, the right-handed-hitting Frazier is built like a concrete wall. His forearms must carry a great deal of his weight. They're huge.
Only 18, Frazier's weight is well proportioned. He should add even more strength as his body develops.
Frazier's bat speed may be the component that sets him apart from the average good hitter. His muscular hands, wrists and arms get through the ball in a flash, generating line drives and loft with backspin.
With his hands held back nicely and his head down at the level of the ball, Frazier does not waste energy and timing on non-essential movement. His swing is measured and compact. While Frazier blisters fastballs, he knows how to read pitches and adjust to breaking balls. I have seen him chase pitches up in the zone while feasting on lower pitches.
Frazier finished his Arizona League season hitting .297 with five homers and 28 RBIs. He also stole three bases. Frazier went to the plate 196 times in his first professional experience. He struck out 61 times and walked on 17 occasions.
Frazier has enough usable speed to steal bases and advance with ease on the base paths. He isn't a burner, but his speed is average to a tick above.
My concern with Frazier at this point rests entirely with his defense. I have seen him fooled badly on balls in the air in Arizona. Games are played at night, and the bright sun doesn't come into play. However, Frazier's recognition of the trajectory of the ball has been late at times. His routes need a great deal of work.
Frazier made only two errors in 70 chances playing all his games in center field.
At this stage, I project Frazier to have less trouble and more success as a left fielder, even though he has awesome arm strength and can throw with the carry of a right fielder. Center field may continue to be a burdensome and unnecessary challenge. But time and experience may well smooth out Frazier's approach in the middle of the outfield. That's what a development program is intended to accomplish.
Look for Frazier to continue to develop his power and hitting abilities in the Indians' system. And he might even get stronger. Frazier's lofty Draft selection was very well deserved. For me, he's clearly "nails plus."