July 1, 2017
The Situation: All of the stuff I wrote on Thursday about the Yankees using their vaunted prospect depth to cover position player injuries from Dustin Fowler’s Call-Up is still true. Throw on top of it that Fowler himself tore his patella tendon in his MLB debut, and the Yankees are now firing their last big hitting bullet from the farm, top outfield prospect Clint Frazier.
Background: Frazier was drafted fifth overall out of Loganville, Georgia in 2013 by Cleveland, four spots ahead of his high school rival and fellow Loganville native Austin Meadows. (Yes, a town of about ten thousand in suburban Georgia produced two top-ten draft pick outfielders in the same year, who have both become elite prospects.) Frazier steadily advanced through the Cleveland system, always hitting just a little less than you’d hope for given his draft status and immense talent, until he was traded to the Yankees in the Andrew Miller deal in July 2016, just after being promoted to Triple-A. Frazier struggled in Triple-A after the deal, but has hit a more acceptable .257/.345/.474 there this year. He’s made every BP 101 since being drafted, peaking at 16th before this season, good for the second spot in a loaded Yankees system.
Scouting: I keep writing up Frazier for various products, and I’m running out of adjectives to describe his bat speed. Let’s go with “among the best in baseball” this time. He takes amazingly fast, amazingly violent cuts at the ball. Combine that with easy plus raw power and an idea of what to do at the plate, and Frazier has as much hitting potential as you’re going to find in the minors. Yet he’s been unable to fully actualize that potential into game performance. There’s nothing hugely wrong with his hitting mechanics, but he does have the remnants of a once-prominent hitch that costs him a beat starting up and he doesn’t always handle good breaking stuff well. It adds up to just a little too much swing-and-miss—not a lot, and you keep hoping Frazier is going to work it out. But we might be sitting here in 2021 still waiting for the breakout to happen, while he’s merely an average-to-good hitter instead of the complementary superstar to Aaron Judge.