Clint Baseball: Age and New Experiences Are Motivators for Frazier
Laurel Wilder | On 24, Apr 2014
Being a teenager is hard. Typically, teenage years are saved for confusion, rebellion, and aimless wandering to discover “yourself.” For the Cleveland Indians’ 2013 first round draft pick, however, being a teenager has taken a bit of a different turn. For Clint Frazier, being a teenager is about learning how to cope with a professional baseball career, the fame associated with his stature, and, perhaps most importantly, trying to adjust his mentality to fit with the new level and new players with whom he is now playing.
Frazier was drafted out of Loganville High School in Georgia as the fifth overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft at the ripe age of 18. He spent his 2013 season playing with the Arizona League Indians, where he hit .297 in 44 games. He scored 32 runs and had 51 hits, 11 doubles, five triples, and five home runs. He knocked in 28 runs, was walked 17 times, and stuck out 61 times. He triple slashed .362/.506/.868 in his inaugural season with the organization.
While the numbers look impressive for a first-time professional player, getting down to only hitting five home runs was a major adjustment for Frazier. He hit 63 home runs during his four-year high school career, giving him the expectation that every good at-bat included a stroll around the bases.
“The biggest mental adjustment was ‘I’m not going to hit a home run every single time,’” Frazier said of his trip through the Indians organization thus far. “I mean, I hit 63 home runs in four years in high school, so it’s very easy to go up to the plate with the mentality, ‘If I don’t hit a home run, I didn’t accomplish a good at bat.’ But I have to think to myself, ‘These guys got here for a reason, they’re good. I got here for a reason and I’m not going to hit a home run every single time.’ I have to tone down my approach a bit.”
This introspective nature seems unexpected from a 19-year old just starting his first real professional venture with the baseball club. Frazier was assigned to Low-A Lake County on April 17 and made his debut against the Burlington Bees. He went 1-5 in his first game, driving in one run. He right away recognized the change in playing level between the Arizona League Indians and his new teammates.
“The players are a lot better here,” Frazier said. “Obviously, there’s a reason why they’re here, they got here for a reason obviously. The performance level is a lot higher. I think I’ve adjusted well. I’m having a blast out here.”
“It was a big transition at first, but it’s my new lifestyle and it’s something I have to get used to,” Frazier said of his baseball journey, including his need to travel across the country at such a young age. “It’s obviously the path I have to take to get to the big leagues. It’s an adjustment that I have to make and there was no turning back once I left so I think I adjusted well.”
Since his debut, Frazier has appeared in five games for the Captains. He is batting .211 in 19 at-bats, with four hits, one double, three RBI, three walks, and four strikeouts. He posts a .304 OBP.
Despite the wide-ranging age differences between Frazier and some of the other players in the Midwest League – a majority of players are over 20, and many have been drafted out of college and are playing at ages 22 or 23 – Frazier said he does not feel inadequate due to his younger age.
“I wouldn’t say it intimidates me under any circumstances. I think it just makes me feel like I accomplished more whenever I have a good day against players that are older,” Frazier said. “It’s something that comes out here and motivates me because when I see a guy out there who is 22 years old, it makes me want to be better than him at a younger age.”
Also adding to Frazier’s quiet confidence and motivation to succeed is another athlete. For anyone who has followed Frazier on Twitter, they will know that he has a strong affinity for football prospect Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football. Frazier has gone so far as to compare himself to the quarterback standout from Texas A&M.
“I think it starts both with the body type. When he weighed in and measured in at the draft, we were almost identical,” Frazier said of his connection to Manziel. “I think he goes out on the field with so much passion and he plays the game so hard that you can tell that he really wants his team to win. I think a lot of that translates to how I play. I go out there and I try to leave everything on the field, I try to give it my all all the time. I know it’s a different sport, but I think how we go about the game is similar in ways.”
As for going about the game, Frazier said that he approaches every at-bat and game appearance with motivation and an objective as to what he wants to accomplish.
“I always try to go up to the plate with an objective – trying to accomplish something where the pitch is thrown, wherever I have a mindset of I’m going to try to hit it in that way,” Frazier said. “If it’s not in that position where I think I can hit it in my objective, I’m not going to swing. In the outfield, I’m just going as hard as I can, trying to track everything and get the best read possible.”
In his second professional game, Frazier seemed to think he had found that good read and had reached his objective during an early-inning at-bat when he crushed a ball into the outfield. However, the ball did not fly as far as Frazier – and fans – seemed to think it would. Frazier humbly acknowledged that his hit was not the huge hit he had anticipated, though he expressed positivity in the eventual result.
“I thought I had it. I knew I hit it very well and I also know the park’s big but I thought I got enough of it,” Frazier admitted. “I kind of loafed out of the box and I wasn’t getting a triple regardless, so at least I got a double out of it.”
Frazier’s acknowledgment of his own errors and his understanding that his professional career will not be constant smooth sailing is a testament to the type of the player that the organization drafted. Though he has every opportunity to be cocky and flaunt his young talent, he instead approaches his role with a cool head and a passion for the game that he plays.
“Indians fans can expect a guy with a lot of passion for the team and a lot of drive to win and somebody who’s going to go out there and work with everyone on the field,” Frazier said as to what fans can anticipate when the see him on the field and moving through the organization. “There’s a lot of motivation for me out on that field.”
Maybe it’s because he’s almost out of his teenage years but, after talking to Frazier and witnessing his composure and maturity, being a teenager doesn’t seem like it’s that hard after all.
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer