Indians draft confident outfielder Frazier
Speedy, powerful Georgia prepster named national player of the year
When Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced that the Indians had selected third baseman Clint Frazier with the fifth overall pick in Thursday's First-Year Player Draft, the 18-year-old approached the club's representatives with a question.
"Am I playing third base for y'all?" Frazier asked Tim Belcher and Johnny Goryl.
The two assured Frazier, the first high school position player chosen in the 2013 Draft, that he would join the organization as an outfielder. After all, Frazier shifted from the hot corner to center field at the start of his junior year at Loganville (Ga.) High School.
|1||HOU||RHP Mark Appel|
|2||CHC||3B Kris Bryant|
|3||COL||RHP Jonathan Gray|
|4||MIN||RHP Kohl Stewart|
|5||CLE||OF Clint Frazier|
|6||MIA||3B Colin Moran|
|7||BOS||LHP Trey Ball|
|8||KC||SS Hunter Dozier|
|9||PIT||OF Austin Meadows|
|10||TOR||RHP Phillip Bickford|
|11||NYM||1B Dominic Smith|
|12||SEA||3B D.J. Peterson|
|13||SD||OF Hunter Renfroe|
|14||PIT||C Reese McGuire|
|15||ARI||RHP Braden Shipley|
|16||PHI||SS J.P. Crawford|
|17||CWS||SS Tim Anderson|
|18||LAD||RHP Chris Anderson|
|19||STL||LHP Marco Gonzales|
|20||DET||RHP Jonathon Crawford|
|21||TB||C Nick Ciuffo|
|22||BAL||RHP Hunter Harvey|
|23||TEX||RHP Alex Gonzalez|
|24||OAK||CF Billy McKinney|
|25||SF||SS Christian Arroyo|
|26||NYY||3B Eric Jagielo|
|27||CIN||CF Phillip Ervin|
|28||STL||LHP Rob Kaminsky|
|29||TB||RHP Ryne Stanek|
|30||TEX||SS Travis Demeritte|
|31||ATL||RHP Jason Hursh|
|32||NYY||CF Aaron Judge|
|33||NYY||LHP Ian Clarkin|
"He's got a confidence to him that's special," said Brad Grant, the Indians' director of amateur scouting. "... It's what he lives for. This is what he wants to do: play baseball."
In an effort to estimate where he might land, Frazier, who has a commitment to the University of Georgia, had mapped out how he thought the top of the Draft would unfold. He said he knew he had a chance at being the No. 5 selection, but he didn't want to hear about those chosen before him.
"I wouldn't want somebody joking around that they were going ahead of me," Frazier said. "I'm kind of sensitive to those things."
That's a result of Frazier's unwavering belief in his own ability, which helped him produced a .561 on-base percentage and 1.134 slugging percentage during his senior campaign. A year earlier, he swatted a game-winning double in the state semifinals before directing the Loganville Red Devils to the AAAA Georgia state title. That season, his junior year, he batted .424 with 24 home runs. His 63 round-trippers are a school record.
So from where does this red-headed youngster, who barely measures 6 feet and 190 pounds, derive all of this power? He bestowed half of the credit upon his father's genes and accounted for the other half on his own, citing a lot of extra time in the weight room during his senior year.
"I love the fact that people don't expect me to have the amount of power I have, just considering my size," Frazier said. "And having red hair, that just adds to it. I've had a lot of people tell me I'm going to be a fan favorite because of my hair, because you don't see a lot of redheads out there. I love the fact that people are putting me on this pedestal of having red hair and acting like no one else out there has red hair."
The hair color might set him apart, but on the diamond, it's his bat speed that garners the most attention.
"It's almost like a coiled snake," Grant said. "It's so fast and quick and generates so much power. It's a special swing."
The Indians were especially intrigued by that tool, though Grant acknowledged Frazier's above-average speed and arm. Longtime Major League pitcher John Smoltz presented Frazier with the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award earlier this week.
"The future is bright for him and the Indians," said Loganville High School coach Jeff Segars. "He's just a tremendous talent. He's got all the tools. He hits, runs, throws, hits for power. He's just a very, very special player."
Throughout high school, Frazier was often placed under the same microscope as longtime friend and fellow outfielder Austin Meadows of Grayson High School. Frazier noted that the two have been sized up since they were 9 years old. The Pirates scooped up Meadows four picks after the Indians grabbed Frazier.
Now, Frazier often hears of comparisons to Angels outfielder Mike Trout, though he prefers associations with Nationals wunderkind Bryce Harper. Those are no run-of-the-mill comparisons, but his high school coach said they are warranted.
Segars said that as a sophomore, Frazier stood out above seniors who had signed on with Division I schools. That's quite a heap of confidence in the kid, not that Frazier is lacking in that department.
"[I'm] very, very confident," Frazier said. "Confidence is what drives my game the most."
The Indians don't select again until the 79th overall pick. They lost their second-round pick when they signed Nick Swisher in December, and they yielded their Competitive Balance pick when they inked Michael Bourn to a deal in February.
Day 2 of the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10, streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m. ET. And Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In the Pipeline
Frazier pairs with Tyler Naquin -- Cleveland's first-round choice in 2012 -- to give the Indians two young, talented outfielders in their farm system. The Indians signed Bourn and traded for Drew Stubbs over the winter to shore up what had been an area lacking organizational depth.
Now, with Bourn, Stubbs and Michael Brantley likely in the fold for the foreseeable future, the club appears to have short-term stability to accompany the long-term options it has accumulated via the Draft the last two years.
"It's easy, raw power and power that translates into the game," Grant said of Frazier. "He's able to loft balls out to all fields. He's a plus runner with a plus arm and we envision him staying in center field for the long term."