The New York Yankees saw the debut of the highly touted Clint Frazier, who has already started his quest to prove the doubters wrong.
For better or for worse, New York Yankees top outfield prospect Clint Frazier was directly under the spotlight leading up to his major league debut on July 1, 2017.
Ever since being acquired from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Andrew Miller last August, everything the 22-year-old has done has been magnified. He has what general manager Brian Cashman called “legendary bat speed,” a social media persona that compares to Noah Syndergaard and a flow that, for whatever reason, accumulated immense media attention.
With that status, character, and talent, came expectations. Some believed his play will never live up to his charm. Some believed the hair created a locker room problem and discontent with the Yankee brass. Some even reported that Frazier asked the Yankees for the No. 7 when he comes to the Bronx — which of course was a number worn and retired by the legendary Mickey Mantle.
“I think [the media attention] was just surprising because I think I handled it the right way,” Frazier told ESPN’s, Andrew Marchand. “I didn’t try and create a headline. People were doing that for me. Like I said, it was surprising because I knew the media was capable of a lot of things, but I hadn’t really experienced it until spring training came about.”
The truth of it all is: the long orange hair actually met team standards. He never asked for Mantle’s number. The blue chip prospect was never the distraction the media made him out to be. All Clint Frazier was, as the top-tier prospect in a blockbuster trade, unprepared for the attention he got when he became a Yankee.
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Yet, amidst all the hype, all he did in 2017 improve his approach (21.3 K%) and plate discipline (11.6 BB%) en route to a .257/.345/.474 slash line with 12 home runs at the time of his promotion from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the New York Yankees. Again, all this while enduring more attention than any minor leaguer should endure, considering there was no apparent wrongdoing.
Then, on the day of his major league debut, he fully showcased that he’s capable of sounding everything out and play the game the way MLB Pipeline’s 17th-best prospect knows how to.
Facing the Houston Astros on Saturday night, Frazier recorded his first career hit (a sixth-inning double off Francis Martes) and first career home run (a seventh-inning solo HR off Tony Sipp). That performance made him the 12th player in franchise history to homer in his major league debut and first since his teammates Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge did so on August 13 of last season.
The day also made Frazier the third Yankees hitter with multiple extra-base hits in his Major League debut joining Dixie Walker on April 28, 1931, at Washington (2 doubles in a 14-inning game) and Mike Pagliarulo on July 7, 1984, at Minnesota (2 doubles).
“It was very eventful,” Frazier said when asked to describe his 2-for-4 debut. “Probably the best taste of baseball I’ve ever had.”
For the kid that is expected to take the Yankee organization to new heights, perhaps all that was needed was proof that he handle the major league level. Frazier is different — he’s no Judge, Tyler Wade or Dustin Fowler. He certainly has that charisma that would generate attention and excitement in the New York market, but his play will do the talking.
And in Frazier’s major league debut, his bat screamed “maturity.”