Fraser aims to display improvements at T12
At this time last season, Jackson Fraser was an intriguing prospect for Alberta's Okotoks Dawgs Academy. He was a little raw when he joined the program from Saskatchewan by pitching coach Jeff Duda's account, but the work that Fraser has put in over the last year has made him a force on and off the field.
"The kid works as hard as anyone," said Duda. "He's always asking questions and trying to do as much as he can to improve. He's a great kid to work with, and a positive life force at the academy."
Fraser will enter his second T12 with increased velocity, improved mechanics and greater confidence. Listed at 6-foot-7 and 180 pounds, the righty has started to fill out his frame and use more of his whole body on the mound -- which has contributed to his fastball touching 89 mph this past summer after sitting around 82 when he joined the Dawgs. He's quick to mention, though, that hitting 90 is directly in his sights.
The hard work and dedication -- "He's always the first one there and last to leave," said Duda -- was instilled in Fraser from a young age, with both his parents playing a key role in his development. His dad, Shawn Fraser, was always around the diamond and there to play catch, while his mom, Ranae McKenzie, has always encouraged him to follow his dream of being a ballplayer.
Fraser's work ethic has put him in the conversation of the top promising young arms in Canada, as he has three quality off-speed pitches that complement his fastball. The high heat is his go-to strikeout pitch, but he also possesses a strong changeup and the mindset that he can get every batter out with weak contact.
"I like to work ahead and have the confidence that I've got eight guys behind me, and I can put it over the plate and I'm going to get guys out more often than they're going to get hits off of me," Fraser said. "My goal is to get him out, and just beat him."
"He fills the zone a lot, he attacks hitters," said Duda. "He's got the potential to be something pretty special, just seeing how far he's come over the past year alone. The arm speed is there, he's got the prototypical pitcher's body -- long, lean, broad shoulders -- and as he continues to develop physically, I would think he has at least two significant jumps on his velocity coming his way. As that happens, he'd be something special to watch."
While T12 will be another chance to show has far he's come on a big stage, Fraser also sees the showcase as yet another way to improve.
"I'm looking forward to picking the brains of the alumni players, trying to see how they handle pressure - seeing if they have any tips for me for my pitching," said Fraser.
"For him, he's pretty dedicated to the whole process," said Duda. "And the sky's the limit -- as cliche as that is."