MOOSIC — Clint Frazier is known for his “world-class bat speed” as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders hitting coach P.J. Pilittere called it. New York Yankees general manager said something to the same affect shortly after the 27-time world champions traded for the outfielder.
However, even with his top-notch bat speed, the 22-year-old’s game is still a work in progress.
The RailRiders are working with Frazier on strengthening his foundation and keeping his base grounded. The outfielder’s change in approach was evident as of late.
Frazier hit his first home run of the season Tuesday night — a fifth-inning, two-out solo shot — propelling the RailRiders to a 6-4 victory against the Louisville Bats. Starting a three-game set with the Indianapolis Indians Friday night, Frazier will look to continue his progress at the plate after a his series against the Bats.
“I told him, it’s just like building a house,” Pilittere said. “Without a solid foundation, meaning your legs, then the roof’s going to struggle, the structure’s going to struggle throughout the rest of the swing. We’re working hard to get him to feel comfortable and grounded on his legs. Once he can master that he’s going to be pretty special.”
Frazier took time during batting practice earlier in the week to work on his swing. Along with working on his foundation, Frazier is also trying to start his approach earlier than he has in the past. By speeding up his approach, Frazier can better see the ball coming out of pitchers’ hands.
The early results have been positive, Frazier has hit 5 RBI in his last seven games heading into Thursday.
“It’s just a matter of getting started earlier than I’m comfortable with and just making that my own,” said the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America. “I feel like I’m seeing the ball pretty well. At times, if I’m trying to be earlier I might go a little quicker to start and that throws me off a little bit, but I feel good with it right now being fairly new.”
Even though the box score might not show it yet — Frazier’s batting .200 heading into Thursday’s game against the Bats compared to .228 in 25 games with the RailRiders last season — Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders manager Al Pedrique can see a difference in his swing this season. Instead of chasing the breaking ball, Frazier’s more patient and swinging at strikes.
“I’m assuming that approach of getting early ready is giving him the opportunity to see the ball, pick it up out of the pitcher’s hand with enough time that you can put your hands in good position,” Pedrique said. “Him and P.J., right now they’re on the same page with the process and we’re hoping that he’ll trust it and stick with it. Once he starts seeing the results on a daily basis he’s going to be happy.”
Pilittere believes the outfielder has the talent to be productive at the next level. He has the bat speed, the ability to drive the ball out of the park and can run. He just has to put it all together.
“We’re just trying to work really hard on his legs, keep him grounded a little bit better — let the ball come to him for more a layman’s terms term — so he can be in a better position to attack,” Pilittere said. “He’s working hard at it, diligently every single day. So it’s going to be getting better.”