As expectations abound, Frazier's focus is to just be himself
Clint Frazier knows he has young, gifted talent. He also knows he has something unique -- his own identity.
The 19-year-old outfielder was the Cleveland Indians’ first-round and fifth overall pick of the 2013 draft. Frazier spent his first season in professional ball with the Arizona League Indians, where he hit .297 with five home runs through 44 games.
Frazier said he didn’t focus on any particular aspect of his game last year. Once he grew acclimated to the Arizona heat, he said he continued his quest to become a well-rounded player.
“I worked on everything,” he said. “I’m trying to be a complete player and make sure that I can impact the game from every aspect of my abilities. I was going out there and working on a lot of offensive and defensive aspects of my game.”
His first season showing had spectators eager for more, but Frazier is leaving the expectations up to the fans. The Georgia native said he knows he’ll be plagued by the pressure that accompanies any first-round pick, but he’s attempting to avoid any anxiety.
“There’s pressure that comes with it, whether it be outside pressure or internal, but I’m trying to put the outside pressures away and focus on being myself and who the Indians want me to be rather than what the fans want me to be,” Frazier explained. “I just have to put those expectations aside and do the best that I can.”
So far, Frazier has done his best to contribute to the low-A Lake County Captains in his first full season of professional ball. After a brief stint in extended spring training to mend a minor right hamstring pull, Frazier’s hit .246 with 32 hits, one home run, nine RBI, 19 walks and 44 strikeouts through 32 games. Though he’s content with his performance, Frazier said he’s anything but complete.
“It’s just a learning process right now,” he said. “It’s all part of me growing as a player, how I’m handling the failures that I’m dealing through everyday. It’s something that I’m not used to, so it’s been a learning experience. I think I’m holding my own, but I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Part of the improvement Frazier seeks is adjusting to the formidable level of new competition while he puts his previous success in the past. As a prolific power hitter in high school, Frazier knocked 63 home runs in four years. He’s hit six since the start of his pro career.
“That’s probably been the hardest pill for me to swallow so far,” he said.
Frazier may not hit a home run every at-bat, but he knows the season is young and so is he. He said he’s never spent such a lengthy amount of time away from his Loganville, Georgia home, but the sacrifice will be worth the outcome.
“It’s not easy coming out here at 19 years old and living on your own but the way I look at it, it’s something that I have to do to accomplish the dream that I have,” he noted.
Since joining the Cleveland Indians organization, Frazier has seen another dream come true -- Johnny Manziel. Frazier’s sentiments toward the polarizing quarterback became public when Frazier posted a photo of himself wearing Manziel’s Texas A&M jersey. The day following the NFL draft, Frazier touted a new jersey.
Frazier said the Indians sent a Manziel Browns jersey to the Classic Park clubhouse, which he proudly wore until game time. Much like himself, Frazier knows Manziel bears the burden of a fanbase begging for better days.
“He’s going to bring a lot of publicity,” Frazier said. “He’s going to bring a lot of fans and expectations for him.”
Frazier feels Manziel’s approach to playing a pro career in Cleveland is as simple as his own approach -- just be himself.
“He’s just got to be Johnny Manziel and what the Browns want him to be,” Frazier explained.
For now, baseball season takes precedence and Frazier is focused on being himself. He knows fans have plenty of expectations, but he also knows himself better than anyone. Frazier’s well-aware that he’s a number one pick, a potential star and a Cleveland Indian. Most of all, he knows he’s Clint Frazier.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.
Regarding Frazier, I'd go along with the idea he is young and still developing his skills, and I hope for the best. Obviously I'd have liked to see a killer bat right into the minors but he obviously has some work to do, and understands this. Will he become a plus batter like Jay Buhner or Richie Sexson, or another Tim Costo or Cory Snyder, who knows?