This article is part of our John Sickels' Column series.
Report on Todd Frazier
Todd Frazier was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the supplemental first round (34th overall) out of Rutgers. Very successful in college, he led the Big East conference with 22 homers in '07, and ranked third in the batting average hunt with a .377 mark. Well-known to scouts since his high school days, he comes from an athletic family and two of his brothers have played professional baseball. Frazier hit .319/.409/.513 in his pro debut in the Pioneer League, then split 2008 between Low-A Dayton (.321/.402/.598 in 30 games) and High-A Sarasota (.281/.357/.451 in 100 games). He begins 2009 with Double-A Carolina and is off to a decent start, hitting .314/.351/.429 through his first 17 games.
TRADITIONAL SCOUTING REPORT
Frazier is 6-3, 215 pounds, a right-handed hitter and thrower, born February 12th, 1986. His tools are average to slightly above across the board: he runs well for his size, has a good throwing arm, and is physically strong enough to hit for substantial power. Scouts questioned his swing in college: it has a lot of moving parts, and worries that he might not hit particularly well with the wooden bat helped keep him out of the first round. So far that hasn't been a problem: he's done well against pro pitching, showing adept ability against both fastballs and breaking balls, granted he still needs to get more experience against advanced pitching. His strike zone judgment is decent, and he has shown the ability to make hard contact even on pitches he probably shouldn't swing at. A bigger question than his bat is his glove: where does he fit on the field? A shortstop in college, his range is below average at that position. He is reliable defensively and doesn't make a lot of mistakes, but the lack of range is a limiting factor for a potential regular shortstop. He would fit better at third base, but the Reds don't have room there right now, and Frazier has also spent time at first base and in the outfield, perhaps being groomed for a super-utility role. He's currently playing left field for Carolina. Scouts and coaches praise his work ethic, intelligence, and leadership skills, regarding him as a very positive presence in the clubhouse.
Frazier enters 2008 with a career mark of .298/.378/.500 at the A-ball level, and so far he's holding up his offense in Double-A. His performance hasn't been super-spectacular, but it's been very good. He projects as a .270-.290 hitter at the major league level, with enough power and OBP to keep himself in the lineup, though I don't see him as a potential cleanup hitter. He would be the kind of hitter who would fit well in the number two or number six hole. He might not have as much power as you want from an ideal third baseman or left fielder, though his versatility would be an asset in itself.
FANTASY INVESTMENT VALUE
Assuming he continues to perform well in Double-A, Frazier would be in line for a late-season cup of coffee in Cincinnati, though he is advanced enough that the Reds would be willing to promote him sooner if a spot opened up due to injury. More probably he is a candidate for the 2010 roster, though at what position remains to be seen. He would also be valuable trade bait. All told, Frazier projects to be a very solid major league player, probably not a star, but a guy who could/should have a long and successful career in the Show.
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Article first appeared 4/30/09