Clint Frazier is a player who has made massive adjustments over the past two years and success has come as a product of these adjustments. We have seen two significant strides in Frazier's game a significantly declining strikeout rate and a more diverse hit dispersion.
While the massive gain occurred between 2014 and 2015, Frazier's 2016 gains should not be ignored. This is because Frazier has cut another ~1% while being a 21 year old in a league in which the average age is between 23 and 24. This adjustment allows Frazier's above average power and contact authority to play up.
In many ways I think Frazier's strikeout decrease and contact dispersion are intertwined especially after a conversation with Akron Rubberducks Manager Dave Wallace. But setting that aside for a moment, I was very impressed with Frazier's command of the strike zone when I saw him last night.
1st PA: In his first plate appearance Frazier got two breaking balls away, the second of which he lashed just foul in the right field corner, The fourth pitch of the plate appearance was a fast ball middle-out which Frazier lined to right-center for a single.
2nd PA: 1st pitch breaking ball away which Frazier rolled to short.
3rd PA: Frazier laid off a solid changeup and then a breaking ball. The third pitch was a fast ball on the inside half of the plate which Frazier ripped through the hole between third and short.
4th PA: Began with a changeup, and breaking ball, 4th pitch was a fastball middle which Frazier took right up the middle for a single.
I was impressed with the manner in which Frazier used the middle of the field and looked the other away when pitched that way.
I asked Rubberducks Manager Dave Wallace about this trait after the game:
We love that middle of the field, right-center approach and it helps him see the ball better and see the ball longer and with his ability and bat speed it is an advantage for him, he can see it longer.If one compares Frazier's 2014 (on the left) to 2016(on the right) heat maps it is clear that some batted ball adjustments occurred.
The two seemingly biggest changes are an increase in ground balls up the middle and in increase in fly balls/line drives to right field, including an increase in fly ball/line drive depth to right field. These both are indicators of the right-center approach that Wallace alluded to.
Why could this also be connected to strikeout gains? Because of something Wallace said "see the ball better and see the ball longer". Which is a coded language for it helps Frazier with pitch recognition. Pitch recognition being essential to Frazier's increasing walk rate and declining strikeout rate.
Frazier's plus bat speed is a huge advantage and it appears he is tapping into it in order to wait on the baseball longer and improve pitch recognition. Finally, another important conclusion. These adjustments are complex and challenging to make, requiring significant focus and effort. Those around Frazier speak to a fantastic work ethic. So not only have these adjustments improved Frazier's profile, they also have demonstrated an ability to adapt which is a positive indicator for future development.
Frazier like many prospects of his caliber faces a world of continuing adjustments but right now Clint is taking every challenge in stride.