As soon as the 2013 Rule 4 draft had concluded, I felt the urge to profile 20 or so players that I really liked from this year's class, but I used my better judgement and I waited until the players got some professional games under their belts and we could could gather information both from the amateur and pro scouts that have now seen them play. With the 2013 nearly finished, I think now is a good time to begin tackling some of the more interesting fantasy prospects from this year's class, starting today with Cleveland' outfielder, Clint Frazier.
Weight: 190 lbs
On 40-man roster: No
DOB: 09/06/1994 (Age-18 season)
Entering the 2013 season, Frazier was arguably the top prep outfielder in the country, a title that only fellow Georgia product Austin Meadow could lay any claim to. As the season went along, however, Frazier's performance on the field dwarfed that of Meadows, and in fact in their lone meeting of the season, Frazier blasted two homeruns and drove in five runs in a 14-4 drubbing, somewhat separating himself in the eyes of scouts. Along with that performance, Frazier was outstanding the entire high school season, hitting .485 with 17 long balls en route to winning Gatorade's National High School Player of the Year award. Leading up to the draft, there was some speculation that Houston may be interested in Frazier with the top spot, but they opted for Mark Appel and Frazier slipped to the fifth spot where the Indians happily snatched him up, four spots ahead of Meadows. After signing quickly for $3.5 million, the 18-year old finished up the season hitting .295/.360/.503 with five homers and three steals in 44 games for the Tribe's Arizona League team.
The Scouting Report
Frazier's talents begin with the bat, a phrase that is music to the ears of all fantasy owners. Despite his somewhat smallish stature, Frazier is able to generate easy plus raw power thanks in large to what ESPN's Keith Law calls the best bat speed he has ever seen from an amateur player. Here you can see that bat speed in action:
Frzier's bat speed comes mostly from his upper body -- he has very strong forearms and d wrist. For the power to reach it's full utility, though, Frazier will have to incorporate his lower half into his swing better, and also improve his pitch recognition, a common theme for an 18-year-old hitter.Additionally, sometimes he collapses his backside, taking his swing path out of the zone rather quickly and leaving him with empty swings far too often. Approach wise, he is a very aggressive hitter, another trait that leads to his high strikeout totals. As he moves up, he may have to tone that back just a bit so better pitching doesn't expand the zone on him.
Frazier's defense and speed lag behind the bat. He consistently has run 6.4 - 6.5 60-yard times, but he's more of a straight line runner and the speed doesn't translate as well to the base paths. Still, with work on the bases he can add 10-15 steals a year potentially. Defensively, the Indians are sticking him in center for now, but unless his reads and jumps improve with repetition, which can happen, he'll end up a corner outfielder. Frazier does have a plus arm, but some tendinitis over the last calendar year has sapped some of his throwing ability and until he gets it back he probably profiles best in left field.
What The Future Holds
Frazier has had to overcome doubters his whole life. He doesn't look the part of an elite power bat, standing somewhere between 5"11 and 6'1 depending on who you talk to, and sprouting freckles and bright red hair, traits that have unfairly labeled him a bit athletic. The reality is that Frazier may just have the best bat speed in the minors, and nearly every person that watches him play comes away a fan because of the work-like approach he takes to the game. He earns every bit of the gamer tag he has been given, and that should help him play above his talent level. Next year, he should get his first full-season assignment, and the expectations will be high. Remember, however, that this is a player that is a long way from his final product, so even if he struggles some, which I do expect, it shouldn't be deemed as a knock on his product status. There is a good amount of risk involved, but Frazier is one of the few players from the '13 draft class that can develop into a true impact player in all areas of the game.
. . .
For more on Frazier and the rest of the Indians, be sure to check out Let's Go Tribe.
Andrew Ball is a writer for Beyond the Box Score, Fake Teams, and Fantasy Ninjas.
You can follow him on twitter @Andrew_Ball.