CLEVELAND: Clint Frazier didn’t expect it to be all that tough to hit home runs at Progressive Field during batting practice before Saturday’s Indians game against the visiting Washington Nationals.
Turns out there’s a bit of a jump from high school to the professional ranks.
Although the Indians No. 1 selection (fifth overall) in last week’s major league baseball draft managed to drive a few balls over the fence with impressive strength and carry, his hour hitting and shagging fly balls in centerfield with the Indians players proved a quick lesson in why the Indians were willing to sign him earlier in the day for $3.5 million.
Hitting a baseball may have been something Frazier could practically do in his sleep back at Loganville High School in Georgia, but it’s a tad bit tougher here in the big leagues.
“I thought I could go out there and hit some home runs easy,” Frazier, 18, said. “But not today. But I got into a few and I really enjoyed myself.”
This past season as a senior, Frazier batted .485 with 17 home runs, 45 RBI and 56 runs scored. In 32 games, the 5-foot-11 Frazier also posted a .561 on-base percentage and owned a 1.134 slugging percentage and was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year.
In bypassing a scholarship to the University of Georgia to sign professionally, Frazier is scheduled to fly to Arizona today to join the Indians Arizona League team. If he does well initially, he could quickly be promoted to short-season Mahoning Valley.
Frazier’s selection marked the first high school outfielder taken by the Indians since Manny Ramirez was nabbed in 1991. The Indians welcomed the redheaded slugger by donning bright red wigs as he walked into the locker room.
“I thought that was hilarious,” Frazier said with a wide smile. “Earlier in the year, somebody from Baseball America joked and said whenever I make it to the major leagues they should have a redhead giveaway night. So it was kind of weird to see that thought come into play and become a reality … seeing them all wearing the red wigs and giving me a hard time is something I can’t even put into words.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com.