Reds' top prospect putting in work to make team as NRI
Todd Frazier will be competing to fill a vacancy in left field.
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
02/08/10 4:05 PM EST
CINCINNATI -- A proud New Jersey native and resident, Reds prospect Todd Frazier had important offseason TV viewing on Thursday nights that had nothing to do with baseball.
The reality hit series, "Jersey Shore," was on MTV this winter. Don't count Frazier among Jersey-ites offended by the state's setting in the controversial show.
"I loved it. I thought it was hysterical," said Frazier. "I had a blast watching that show. I was actually excited for Thursday night to watch."
That show is over for now, and in about two weeks, the offseason will be, too. Frazier will be headed somewhere that has no beach, but a desert -- and the possibility for a far better "situation."
Frazier, an infielder and outfielder that just happens to be ranked as the organization's No. 1 prospect by Baseball America, will be in Reds camp at Goodyear, Ariz., as a non-roster player seeking to make the big league roster. "Jersey Shore" aside, he's been putting in the work to earn a spot.
"Just being invited to big league camp is great," Frazier said. "You're one step away from going [to the Majors]. It's going to be competitive this year. I'm all about competition. I believe you have to earn your way to a spot in the Major Leagues, no matter who you are -- just give it your all."
Frazier, who will turn 24 on Friday, will be competing to fill a vacancy in left field against the likes of Chris Dickerson, Laynce Nix, Josh Anderson, Wladimir Balentien and fellow elite prospects Chris Heisey and Juan Francisco.
Before the Reds signed free agent Orlando Cabrera on Feb. 1, Frazier was also going to be in the mix against Paul Janish at his natural position -- shortstop. In workouts in his hometown of Toms River, N.J., Frazier took ground balls at third base, shortstop, second base and first base.
"I'm going in with the mindset that I don't know what position I will be playing," said Frazier, who was interviewed on Jan. 28. "All offseason, I've been working on every position. You never know what position they will want you at. I've heard some things, but ultimately the goal is you have to hit the ball and try to work my way into a position."
Frazier has hit well at every stop in the Minors since he was the 34th overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. In 135 games combined with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, he batted .292 with 16 home runs, 77 RBIs and a .351 on-base percentage.
Working against Frazier are his 16 games of regular-season experience in Triple-A. He also has limited experience in left field, a position he's added in the past couple of seasons -- but he has acclimated himself quickly, according to the club's reports.
After the Reds drafted Frazier, they identified other shortstops in the organization that were ahead of him. Listed as 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, the right-handed hitter was often rated as too big to play the position.
Since 2007, Frazier has played 112 games at shortstop, 87 in left field, 35 at first base and 18 at third base. Last season, he added second base to the resume and played 37 games.
"With the different positions, you have to know where to be every single time and know the hitter," said Frazier, who is preparing for his second big league camp. "You have to know which side to be on second base or if you need to shift a little at first base."
An optimistic future was more likely after last season when Baseball America named Frazier as the Reds' No. 1 ranked prospect over players like Yonder Alonso and Francisco. It seems to indicate that one way, one spot or another, Frazier will eventually be in the Majors.
"That was cool. I really didn't expect to get it," Frazier said of the honor. "It goes to show how many good Minor Leaguers we have, because in the past three or four years, it's been somebody different. We have a great crop of players in the Minors with the Reds. It was great to see I was named No. 1. But you have to go out there and perform."
If Frazier does make the Reds' club out of camp, that would likely be more fun for him than watching the "Jersey Shore" gang fist pump their way around the dance club.