Yankees will need Clint Frazier to be ready, sooner or later

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09: Clint Frazier
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09: Clint Frazier /

If you’re on social media, then you’ve probably seen a handful of Yankees working out in preparation for the new season. But perhaps the most impressive exhibition of the bunch has been Clint Frazier.

Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray. These are just a few of the Yankees that have showcased their offseason conditioning routines for all the world to see.

And though it’s hard to argue that watching the mighty Stanton backpedal a sled up a driveway with two men standing on it, all the while holding two 50 pound dumbbells, not being the most viral of the bunch, would you expect anything less from the reigning National League MVP?

Instead, a new fan favorite, one that isn’t shy about posting to Instagram and Twitter has arguably been the most impressive specimen to-date.

Clint Frazier, aka Red Lighting, stars in a video that showcases his “legendary bat speed” as he takes rips in a batting cage.

Obviously, hitting BP fastballs is entirely different than facing Justin Verlander in the ALCS, but we need to keep things in perspective.

Frazier, who was a top three prospect this time last year, no longer carries that designation due to his 142 plate appearances for the big league club in 2017.

Through 39 midseason games, the crown jewel of the Andrew Miller trade showed glimmers of what makes him so unique — raw power, unbridled enthusiasm, solid defense and a relentless work ethic.

Still just 23, there are bumps in the road to be expected from Frazier, including questionable pitch selection (30.3 percent strikeout rate) and poor hitting mechanics that leave him susceptible to breaking balls.

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If you don’t believe me, take a look at the tape from last season. Focus on Frazier’s back foot and how frequently it bails out of the batter’s box.

But this is why I’m so impressed by Clint’s Twitter page. The majority of the hacks showcased in these clips detail his violent swing to be much more compact.

Getting the bat head out front as quickly as Frazier does, can expose the upper body, and therefore make it more difficult to keep both feet planted long enough to sit back on a curveball or slider. Hence the large swing and miss numbers.

Although we won’t know until game situations this spring, whether or not Frazier has officially quelled what ails him, he looks to be on the right track — driving through the ball with a polished steadiness that should result in a more considerable success rate against the world’s best shooters.

The most significant question surrounding the man that had 17 extra-base hits and 16 runs scored in limited time last year is where he spends the majority of 2018 suiting up.

Being the fifth outfielder on the big league roster makes little sense. Frazier needs to play as much as possible; this can’t be disputed. Even if he were to absolutely mash at Triple-A, it not only keeps him prime should an injury occur in the Bronx, but it puts starters like Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks on notice.

After being linked as the centerpiece in potential deals with the Pirates for Gerrit Cole and the Tigers for Michael Fulmer, it’s clear that Frazier is a highly-valued commodity by other clubs.

There’s even speculation, which if Frazier were to be tied to Jacoby Ellsbury, that the organization would finally be free from Ellsbury’s albatross of a contract.

However, I for one am glad the Yankees have decided (up to this point) to keep Frazier in pinstripes. With Gardner set to hit free agency after this season and Hicks’ penchant for trips to the DL, sooner or later, Frazier will be called upon. Then it’ll be up to him to produce.

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Still two years younger than Aaron Judge, who won AL Rookie of the Year at 25, the Yanks shouldn’t be pressured into promoting Frazier just because he’s already seen time in the bigs. Patience needs to be practiced by both the organization and the player.