Down on the Yankees Farm: Clint Frazier
In late July, the New York Yankees decided to become sellers at the trade deadline for the first time in over 20 years. They chose to build for the future and they acquired a very impressive piece that will aid them in achieving that goal.
Andrew Miller, who is arguably the best reliever in baseball, was surprisingly dealt to the Cleveland Indians in a five-player trade. The Yankees came away with four players, including the Indians top prospect Clint Frazier. The uber talented redhead has a larger than life personality made for the New York spotlight and the skills to back it up.
This monstrous specimen comes in at 6’1, 215 pounds and only at age 22, those numbers do him no justice. Frazier is a gym rat and a hulking figure with jaw dropping bat speed. Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman, has already crowned his bat speed as “legendary”. The Yankees general manager also said “He has all the tools… A high-energy guy who shows up to the national anthem in a dirty uniform.” Hearing that from the general manager would create excitement within any fan base.
Frazier immediately took to social media after he arrived in New York, to show he was truly committed to becoming a Yankee. He posted a photo of himself in a barber shop, getting his flow trimmed and having his beard shaved, which falls in line with the long standing Yankee policy of maintaining a neat appearance.
Not only does Clint shine on the diamond, he is also a true hometown hero in Loganville, Georgia. He is a surrogate brother to Emily Rutledge who lost her brother Ethan in a car accident in 2013. The relationship began after he visited the Rutledge home not long after the funeral. Clint did not know Ethan well, but he wanted to learn more about him and felt he needed to help a grieving family in his hometown after such a tragic accident. He offered kind words and comfort for the family along with a personal donation to their foundation. Clint came to find that Ethan was the homecoming king at the 2014 Loganville High prom and was also a member of the football team. He had also just begun his first year at Columbus State as a biology major. That day he befriended Emily, who has become a very good friend whom he texts regularly. He has had a big impact on Emily, as she has seen him as a support system. The Yankee organization and fans are not only happy to have a great baseball talent in Frazier, but a good citizen and kind-hearted man.
Frazier knows Loganville, Georgia as home when he’s not traveling the country playing baseball. It is a small city that holds about 10,000 people, most know Clint Frazier’s name. He was a star at Loganville High School, he played for the freshman team in eighth grade before he was of age. Once he was eligible to play as a freshman he was immediately sent to the varsity team. He dominated and coaches were in awe. Scouts would soon line up to see Clint play throughout his final year as a Red Devil. They captured the 2012 State Championship with his help and he was recognized as the 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year. This award recognizes the best high school baseball player in the country each year. Many current and former big leaguers have been recognized, such as Clayton Kershaw (2006) and Alex Rodriguez (1993). His draft stock skyrocketed after receiving this prestigious award.
Clint Frazier was taken fifth overall in the 1st round of the 2013 Major League Baseball amateur draft. He was the first high school player taken that year and received a 3.5 million dollar signing bonus that helped persuade him to follow a career in major league baseball, rather than play in college.
He began his first full season of pro ball in High-A, playing for the Lake County Capitals where he led the league in hits and doubles. The following year, he found himself in Advanced-A where he had a phenomenal year, finishing with a .285 average, 36 doubles, 16 homers, 72 runs batted in, and 15 stolen bases. He then graduated to Double-A in 2016 and continued to show off his potential. Frazier was rewarded with a trip to the All-Star Futures Game, hosted by Major League Baseball. This game is a tradition that includes the best prospects in all of baseball squaring off against each other, to give a glimpse of the future of the sport. Prospects have rapidly increased in value over the past 5-10 years. Their increased value has been a product of a reluctance to hand out large sums of money to aging stars. The youth movement in the bigs has brought a large fan following to the Futures Game in recent years.
Clint made the jump to Triple-A Scranton when he was traded to New York. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders went on to win the Triple-A International League Championship in 2016. Frazier struggled in his short time with the RailRiders, but the Yankees knew sending him up would be a challenge that he could build on next year, when he embarks on a full season at Triple-A. I believe if he has a strong showing in the first half of the 2017 season he could find himself in pinstripes by August.
Brett Gardner’s name has come up all offseason as a possible trade candidate in order to dump salary to get the team under the luxury tax threshold. I believe the Yanks will hold on to the 2016 Gold Glove winner until they find a legitimate deal before the trade deadline. That will open a spot in left field for Mr. Frazier.
Preferably the Bombers would like to ship Jacoby Ellsbury elsewhere to get out of the tumultuous 153 million dollar deal they agreed upon in 2014. The chances of that are slim, as another team taking on Ellsbury’s lofty salary along with his declining skills is unlikely. There is also the possibility of an injury opening up a spot in the outfield, and Ellsbury has a knack for landing on the disabled list.
The other highly touted outfield prospect, Aaron Judge, finished the season on the DL last year as well.
Frazier should get a chance to make a first impression this year in the Bronx and we should all be excited for the next generation of Yankee baseball. He has even drawn comparisons to 2016 American League MVP Mike Trout. Those are hefty expectations for a young man like Frazier and it may even be unfair to expect that of him. For now, Yankee fans can salivate at the thought of Frazier continuing the tremendous legacy of Yankee center fielders, such as DiMaggio, Mantle and Williams.