Karpin: Judge, Hicks, Or Frazier: Yanks Need To Make “Right” Pick

Names like Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and Gleyber Torres headline a deep pool of young talent that the Yankees are hoping will be the backbone of a return to their championship ways. One name, which is not on that list, may be on the fast track to major league stardom.

From all indications, Clint Frazier could be the Yankees’ next big star to patrol the outfield at Yankee Stadium. We all know that prospects are just that, prospects, until they prove themselves at the major league level. Before that even happens, there are signs that good scouts pick up that tell them this prospect is for real.

Bernie Pleskoff, who is a former scout for the Astros and Mariners and is an outstanding talent evaluator, wrote this about Frazier in November of 2015. His strength, aggressive approach and his quick hands through the ball all point to a successful big league career. He can become a major force to be reckoned with as a home run threat.”

At his ceiling, Judge is projected as a 30 home run power bat, but one who may strike out at an alarming rate. Frazier has much more upside. He possesses exceptional bat speed and very little unnecessary movement in his swing. His reactions at the plate, his bat speed, the loft in his swing and his ability to crush fastballs are all reasons for excitement,” according to Pleskoff’s scouting report. Frazier has the ability to match Judge’s power and his bat speed will enable him to learn how to make adjustments to the off speed stuff.

Some scouts feel Frazier is a corner outfielder who needs to work on his routes and how he tracks balls in the gap. A National League scout that I know was at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa yesterday and he texted me that he was watching Frazier going through drills in center field. “Noticeable difference from other players. Quick first step, fast,” is what the text said.

 I texted him to compare Frazier and Judge. He texted back, “Judge could have an average career. This guy (Frazier) barring some catastrophe, will be a star.”

Like Judge, Frazier is a right handed hitter. With Sanchez, Starlin Castro, and Matt Holliday, it’s apparent the Yankees have gotten away from being a team that featured left handed power. If Sanchez, and eventually Frazier, can take advantage of the friendly dimensions in right and right center field at Yankee Stadium, that would negate that “disadvantage” to some extent.

The Yankees are showing some age in the outfield with Brett Gardner (will be 34 during the season) and Jacoby Ellsbury (will be 34 during the season) so to start importing youth is important to the development of the club.

Judge is getting an opportunity to beat out switch-hitter Aaron Hicks for the right field job. The 6’7” outfielder will be scrutinized heavily during spring camp especially if the strikeouts start to accumulate. I’m not sold on Hicks who has been an underachiever so far in his major league career.

Frazier will start the year in the minor leagues but he’ll be lurking in the shadows all season long.

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