Tampa- Clint Frazier is vying for an outfield spot on the Yankees roster and came to camp with that one goal to head north in four weeks. And if he is a part of the Opening Day roster there is every intention of Frazier getting playing time.
Time may be running out for the 25-year old, though relatively young, he has never shown the potential. Rumors of off-season trade talks the past two years and, Frazier is still wearing pinstripes.
A fifth round selection in the 2013 MLB draft, Frazier, highly touted, has never lived up to potential for any number of reasons.
He has the ability and there has never been a doubt about the production. Frazier is a run producer, has power, and speed. The flaw has been lapses at times in the outfield. He has always attributed that to mental mistakes.
But with an influx of outfielders on the Yankees 40-man roster, there is no room for mental mistakes.
And there was a concussion that limited his playing time last year. Clint Frazier, as baseball people will tell you, is a ballplayer. The Yankees have to make a decision about that roster spot.
The Grade-A calf strain injury to Giancarlo Stanton, that could open up the door for a roster spot. Chances are, Stanton, does not rejoin the Yankees anytime soon, four weeks or more, and that rules out Opening Day for the often injured Yankees high priced slugger.
In late September, as the Yankees prepared their roster for the postseason, the name of Clint Frazier was not there. Because the Yankees have had that influx in the outfield it has been difficult to show that ability.
And with another season approaching the name of Clint Frazier will come up. Do the Yankees pull the plug with a trade if there is no opportunity in the Bronx?
Frazier needs that opportunity to play everyday. The Yankees, his home grown team, may not be the answer.
“He’s had some bumps along the way, but I’ve never questioned how hard he’s worked at things,” said manager Aaaron Boone. “I will say there has been a real level of focus and enthusiasm. Early on, he’s getting good results out of it.”
Thursday afternoon, Frazier, in his first at bat hit a home run. That paved the way for the Yankees in their 7-1 spring game win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The home run showed his power. So does the bat speed that was never an issue. It impressed his manager.
Of course with more playing time this spring, Stanton out of the outfield equation, Aaron Hicks recovery from Tommy John surgery, more power from the right side will make the answer easier for Aaron Boone.
However, consistency has to be the key. Frazier has never denied that was the issue. He wants to play, stay healthy, and be consistent.
“I still have to finish the camp healthy,” Frazier said. “I still have to go out there and perform and ultimately show them I might be able to play the position the way they want me to if called upon.”
He will get his looks. Again playing time and consistency will be the key. Most likely, a roster spot at this point does favor Mike Tauchman. He was the surprise addition last season that came through with a record number of Yankees injuries.
Miguel Andujar is also getting some looks in left field after missing all last year with surgery to his right shoulder.
ON THE MOUND: It’s no secret that J.A. Haap is now a key component to the Yankees pitching rotation with the season ending loss of Luis Severino and minus James Paxton, and Domingo German.
Severino had successful Tommy John surgery in New York Thursday morning and will miss this season and most of next.
Haap will follow Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka in the rotation.
Thursday, Haap, pitched three innings. One run, two hits, two strikeouts. 11 batters. Rookie Michael King, the Yankees top right-handed prospect would follow and tossed two innings of scoreless ball on two hits.
Jonathan Loaisiga, 31.2 innings pitched, 4.55 ERA last year, stands the best chance of making the rotation as a possible fifth starter with a void in the Yankees rotation.
Deivi Garcia, the Yankees other top prospect will also get a look and will start Friday against the Braves.
“That’s one of my favorite things about this camp,” said Boone about the young pitching. “The amount of talented young pitchers we have that are starting to knock in that door a little bit.”
Thursday, 25-year old Loaisiga, allowed no hits, and struck out four of six. He has also pitched one hit of hitless ball in the first week of spring play.
Though, early, Loaisiga is making an impression. Boone said the right-hander is in the plan but would not commit on a rotation spot. Again, pitching is a commodity and the Yankees are aware you never have enough.
You get the impression, Loaisiga will have a role. “It could be some different roles,” Boone said.
Haap, more importantly, has to play a role and the Yankees decision to not trade him this off-season has turned out to be the proper move.
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