Tribe top pick Frazier 'sky high' after signing
Outfielder will begin pro career with organization's rookie team in Arizona
CLEVELAND -- Clint Frazier walked up a short incline, turned a corner, passed through the doors to the Indians' clubhouse and stared at the sight before him. There stood a gathering of Indians players, sporting bright red wigs reminiscent of the mop sported by Frazier, the organization's first-round Draft pick.
"That was awesome," said Frazier, who signed his first professional contract, reported to include a signing bonus of $3.5 million, at Progressive Field on Saturday. "I never knew what it would be like to meet a bunch of Major Leaguers at once. Seeing all of them in the red wigs and giving me a hard time, that was just something that I could not put into words."
The Indians' hitters were left with a similar, awestruck disposition after Frazier splashed baseballs to all fields during batting practice on Saturday afternoon. The 5-foot-11 center fielder tallied a school-record 63 home runs during his four-year stint at Loganville (Ga.) High School. Cleveland skipper Terry Francona immediately learned of the 18-year-old's power when Frazier gave him a hearty handshake.
Francona first reached out to Frazier when the Indians selected him with the No. 5 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. The two met on Friday night, when Francona outlined what the youngster can expect during his upcoming travails through the Minor Leagues.
"Work as hard as you can, listen more than talk, and be respectful of the game," Francona said. "If he does those things -- and I know that's short, but it encompasses a lot -- but if he does that, those guys usually fly through the system because they're so talented."
The manager wasn't the only one to offer Frazier guidance. Jason Giambi, who made his big league debut eight months and two days after Frazier was born, took the newest member of the organization under his wing. In their conversations, Giambi provided two recommendations for how to snap out of a slump at the plate. The 42-year-old slugger also gave Frazier his phone number in case he has any questions during his quest to the Majors.
"I remember playing with him on a video game," Frazier said. "Just to be sitting next to the guy and just how big he still is right now and all of the words of wisdom he's given me and putting me under his wing, that's all that I could ask for."
Frazier will fly out on Sunday to the club's player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz., where he'll commence his professional career with the rookie-level Arizona League Indians. There, Frazier will attempt to build off of his stellar senior season with the Red Devils, for whom he batted .485 (47-for-97) with 17 home runs, a .561 on-base percentage and 1.134 slugging percentage.
"I have a lot of expectations for myself," Frazier said, "and I know being one of the highest selections comes with a lot of expectations."
On Saturday, Frazier's family stood along the railing of the home dugout and watched him take batting practice. When he departs for Arizona, his family will retreat to Georgia, a separation Frazier said will be "a very bittersweet moment." It will all take place on Father's Day, no less.
"My dad told me that this is the best Father's Day gift anyone could have," Frazier said. "I'm glad just to be able to come out here and bring a smile to his face and enjoy my last moments with my family, and obviously going into my new life I'm going to be living is something that they're very proud of and that I'm very excited to go toward."
Frazier knows he has much to learn as he embarks on his journey. Brad Grant, the Indians' director of amateur scouting, instructed Frazier how to address any manager he encounters. Frazier signed autographs for children on the field after his batting practice session, as he penned his name and his high school number, 19. Those numerals won't accompany his name on his jersey should he one day burst onto the big league scene with Cleveland. After all, the retired digits belong to Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller.
That's all fine with Frazier. The red-headed kid is living out his dream, and that's all that matters.
"I'm still on sky high," Frazier said. "Being drafted was one thing, but being able to sign a [pro] contract was another thing. To be able to finally say that I am part of a pro team, that really means a lot. For the Indians to think enough of me to draft me No. 5, that was just the best experience of my life."