NEW YORK -- One of the telling signs of whether a young player is going to continue to play well in the Major Leagues is how effectively he can make adjustments as big league pitchers start to adjust to him.So far, Yankees rookie outfielder Clint Frazier has shown he has
NEW YORK -- One of the telling signs of whether a young player is going to continue to play well in the Major Leagues is how effectively he can make adjustments as big league pitchers start to adjust to him.
So far, Yankees rookie outfielder Clint Frazier has shown he has a knack for making difficult offensive adjustments on the fly, a trait that was on full display in the fifth inning of the Yankees' 6-1 win over the Rays on Friday night.
After striking out in the first inning and popping out in the fourth, Frazier launched a 455-foot, three-run blast in the fifth. He credited his homer to something he worked on with his swing in between at-bats.
"If you watch the first two at-bats, it was a different loading mechanism I did both times," Frazier said, adding that Rays starting pitcher Austin Pruitt "had that weird hesitation in the full [windup] that was throwing me off, and I was unable to stay on my backside."
All good hitters have a specific method for timing up a pitcher during any given at-bat, which is called a load. Frazier, ranked No. 2 on the Yankees' Top 30 Prospects list, likes to load early during a pitcher's delivery, which he said allows him to see the ball longer as it travels toward home plate.
As he loads, he kicks his leg up in the air and balances on his back leg until he's ready to start swinging. How long Frazier balances on his backside depends on how long it takes for the pitcher to complete his delivery and throw the pitch.
"I call it dancing with the pitcher," Frazier said. "He makes a move, then I make a move."
The hesitation in Pruitt's delivery disrupted Frazier's timing in his first two at-bats; the outfielder was making the first move, instead of the other way around.
Half the battle of making a successful adjustment for a hitter is knowing what he needs to do in the first place. Frazier, the No. 27 prospect in baseball, knew what he was doing wrong, and he knew how to fix it, but fixing the problem in such a short amount of time is no small task, especially against a Major League pitcher.
During the Yankees' rally in the fifth inning, Frazier watched some video in the clubhouse of how he handled similar situations in previous games, and he took some swings in the batting cages before facing Pruitt for a third time.
"It's difficult," Frazier said. "These guys are making pretty different adjustments up here."
To this point, Frazier is also making different adjustments, and if he continues to successfully fix his mechanics as pitchers adjust to him, he should be a special player.
Teammate Aaron Judge, who also has proven he can make quick adjustments, said Frazier's success since joining the Yankees (.282, four homers, 16 RBIs in 20 games entering Saturday) is just "the tip of the iceberg."
"He came up here and he's made a couple of adjustments, and now he's taken off," Judge said.
"He's got all the talent in the world. It's going to be fun to watch him the next couple of years."
Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.