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Frazier's success in leadoff spot continues

Indians' No. 2 prospect powers Scottsdale from top of the lineup in AFL win

Clint Frazier might not stick as a leadoff hitter, but he's certainly thriving in the role this fall for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

The Indians' No. 2 prospect (No. 35 overall) continued his strong start in the Fall League on Friday, going 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored as Scottsdale trounced Peoria, 10-1. Frazier has now hit safely in five of six games as the Scorpions' leadoff hitter, and he's batting .375 with two home runs and seven RBIs in that span.

Frazier struggled during the first half of the season at Class A Advanced Lynchburg in the Carolina League, batting just .248/.334/.395 with seven home runs in 67 games. But as was the case during his 2014 campaign, the 21-year-old outfielder made up for the rough start with a monster second half, posting an impressive .325/.422/.539 batting line with nine home runs, 31 extra-base hits and 37 RBI over his final 66 contests.

Frazier believes his turnaround after the All-Star break was tied to his improved approach and plate discipline.

"It was a few simple adjustments," he said. "I started to work on my approach and my timing -- which wasn't a hard adjustment to make -- and it led to me having a successful second half. It's no surprise that when those two are on I'm going to see the ball well and give myself the best chance to hit."

After striking out 72 times against 27 walks during the first half, the 2013 first-round Draft pick (No. 5 overall) coaxed 41 walks and fanned just 53 times following the All-Star break. Overall, Frazier batted .285/.377/.465 with a career-best 16 home runs, 36 doubles, 72 RBI and 88 runs scored. He also swiped 15 bags in 22 attempts.

Now, in the Arizona Fall League, Frazier is trying to build upon what made him successful during the second half.

"I'm just trying to stay to the big part of the field, working the ball back up the middle and to right-center," he said. "I don't want to be too pull-happy right now, so I'm just taking what I'm given at the plate and trying to run with it."

"The guys out here all have amazing really good offspeed pitches and fastballs, so I need to make sure my timing is on as well."

Frazier spent most of the season batting either second or third in the order for the Hillcats. In the 15 games in which he led off, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound outfielder batted just .217 with a .262 on-base percentage.

However, Frazier has excelled this fall in his role as the Scorpions' leadoff hitter.

"I'm embracing it right now, but I'm really just happy to be in the lineup," he said. "There's a lot of talented guys on our team, so it's an honor just to have [manager Matt Quatraro] put me in the lineup every single day and believe in me in that leadoff spot."

Indians No. 28 prospect Yandy Diaz also had a big game for Scottsdale, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a pair of RBIs, and 24-year-old outfielder Todd Hankins went 2-for-4 to raise his Fall League batting average to .412 through five games. Tigers prospect Dominic Ficociello hit a triple and tallied three RBIs as part of a 2-for-4 effort.

On the mound, Scottsdale starter Antonio Romero -- also a product of the Indians' farm system -- allowed a solo home run in the first inning but settled in after that, scattering three hits over four innings to record the win. The 24-year-old right-hander struck out four and did not issue a walk in his Arizona Fall League debut.

The Scorpions' bullpen held Peoria in check for the rest of the game, as five relievers combined to allow three hits (and zero walks) while striking out nine batters over the final five frames.

Orioles No. 16 prospect Jason Garcia started for the Javelinas and struck out three batters in two scoreless innings. A Rule 5 Draft selection by Baltimore last offseason, the 22-year-old righty spent more than two months on the disabled list during the regular season with shoulder tendinitis. When he was healthy, Garcia registered a 4.25 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 17 walks in 29 2/3 innings (21 appearances) out of the O's bullpen.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.
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