Little League hero Todd Frazier looks to jump to majors
By TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
June 7, 2007
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Making the jump from the Little League World Series to the big leagues has been rare.
But soon, the feat accomplished by 31 players, including Gary Sheffield, Jason Varitek and Boog Powell, may have another name to add: Todd Frazier.
The winning pitcher when Toms River East of New Jersey won the Little League title in 1998, and now a power-hitting All-American junior shortstop from Rutgers, Frazier is considered one of the top prospects in Thursday's first-year player baseball draft.
"This is what I have always dreamed about," Frazier said. "Hopefully, it will come true. I just can't wait to see how it unfolds."
Frazier comes into the draft off a spectacular season in which he was in the top six in every offensive category for Rutgers except triples. He set the school single-season records this season for home runs (22), home runs by a leadoff hitter (22), runs scored (87), walks (62), doubles (24) and total bases (187).
In the Big East Conference tournament, he hit a mammoth, 400-plus foot home run that went over the scoreboard at Brooklyn's KeySpan Park, the home of the New York Mets' Class A affiliate.
"He has all the intangibles," said Scott Hunter, the Mets' area scout. "He can hit. He can hit with power. He can field his position. He has the arm.
"The intriguing thing about him, however, is his power," Hunter said. "That's what will make or break him."
Hunter said there are some who think Frazier will go early in the first round, and others who think he might slip to the second. Some teams also project him as a third baseman or outfielder, thinking he is too big at 6-foot-4 to be a shortstop.
Longtime Rutgers coach Fred Hill has no doubts about Frazier, ranking him among the best players ever at Rutgers, a program that has sent Eric Young, David DeJesus and others to the major leagues.
"He is an outstanding athlete, number one," Hill said. "He plays with great enthusiasm and from my standpoint, the best thing he does is that he comes into every game with a clear mind. Whatever happened the day before is forgotten."
Frazier said that was something he learned growing up.
"I enjoy baseball all the time," Frazier said. "You never know when it's going to be your last game. I can go out and go 0-for-4 and the next day the sun is going to come out. You just enjoy yourself. It's baseball."
Frazier comes from a baseball family. Two older brothers also were drafted; Charlie was taken by the Florida Marlins in 1999 and Jeff was picked by Seattle in 2004.
While Frazier could opt to return to Rutgers for his senior year if the draft doesn't go his way, his voice indicates he is ready to move on.
"It's a crazy thing," Frazier said. "You just go in there and hope the best happens for you."
In some ways it was like going to the Little League World Series. There were lots of good teams and things managed to work out.
Frazier has found it hard to remain in contact with all his Little League teammates, but he is looking forward to a 10-year reunion in 2008. However, he says his time in Williamsport, Pa. as a 12-year-old was invaluable.
"Playing and having 44,000 people watching you in pressure situations when you are young, I mean, that's helped out big through high school and college," Frazier said. "Now you just see a pressure situation and you just have fun with it. You don't worry about a thing because you know you can do it, and you know you can do these challenges."
After Thursday, Frazier is hoping that next challenge is with a major league team or one of its affiliates.