Old friend Hyers helping Frazier find his swing again
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers hitting coach Tim Hyers remembers when he first saw Clint Frazier.
Frazier was a freshman playing varsity baseball for Loganville (Ga.) High School in suburban Atlanta, and -- according to Hyers -- he was hitting more home runs than juniors and seniors on the team.
“He hit a baseball like he was about to jump into college,” Hyers said. “Very explosive, very light, dynamic in the batter's box. When he was 14, it was like, 'This kid is different from everybody else because of his bat speed.' What he's capable of doing in the box is like, one swing of the bat and you change the scoreboard.”
The two go way back.
Frazier went to high school with Hyers’ son, who even lived with the outfielder when he was in college at the University of Georgia. Before Frazier was selected by Cleveland with the fifth overall pick of the 2013 MLB Draft, he thought he was going to Boston, where Hyers was the Minor League hitting coordinator at the time, with the seventh pick.
Now nearly a decade later, Hyers is the entire reason Clint signed a Minor League deal with Texas this offseason.
“Just to keep it short and to the point, I've been trying to get with Tim for four years now, and I definitely wanted to go with a familiar face,” Frazier said. “I think Tim's one of the best in the game, and he certainly helped me reach the potential that I know is in there and get it out.”
Frazier has had a long journey since being a first-round Draft pick in 2013. He endured five injury-filled big league seasons with the Yankees before spending ‘22 with the Cubs, with whom he hit just .216 over 19 games. His best stretch was 39 games in ‘20, when he slashed .267/.394/.511 with New York in a platoon role.
When asked what went wrong early in his career or what needs to change going forward, Frazier said frankly, “That could take a while.”
“Ultimately failing sucks, but it helped me kind of understand why for the first time,” Frazier added. “It was time to work with somebody that knew me and knew the evolution of my swing and could help me get to where I am now. … I needed to just figure out why I was good and why I was bad. I believe in my heart that Tim is going to help me get these moves and translate them into the box.”
In the offseason, while Frazier and Hyers were in Atlanta, Hyers “diagnosed” Frazier’s swing. The outfielder said he used to have a slight hitch in his swing that gradually turned into a large hitch, pointing the barrel of the bat downwards and causing him to regularly hit ground balls to third base.
“I'm just reminding him who he was,” Hyers said. “Pretty much I told him, ‘Hey, let's go back to the high school swing, that flow you had.’ There's some movements in his swing that get him in trouble. The philosophy is not to change it -- we can't change his DNA. What we can do is go with it but try to control it. We’re just trying to control some of his movements and not let the bad habits run away.”
Frazier knows he never quite reached his potential at the big league level. He knows that not doing so in New York had an effect on him both mentally and physically, calling the environment “nasty” when you don’t perform. He also believes that if he could fail at that stage, he can succeed in any other.
And if you ask manager Bruce Bochy, a change of scenery may be exactly what Frazier needs to unlock that potential. With the Rangers’ left-field job far from locked up, even after the signing of Robbie Grossman, Frazier has the opportunity to return to the big league stage and contribute on an up-and-coming Texas team.
“Sometimes you just need that change of scenery,” Bochy said. “And sometimes you need to be humbled to maybe change some things. I've always said if you keep doing what you're doing, you keep getting what you get. So I know he worked a lot.
“Consistent at-bats and consistent hard contact,” Bochy added, when asked what he wants to see from Frazier in camp. “He’s got great bat speed. It's been a rough couple of years for him and he's trying to get it back together. That's all you want. Really the bat is his biggest tool. He's just got to get that going again, and he can help anybody if he's where he was a couple of years ago."