USA TODAY High School Sports is featuring the 12 athletes in the running for the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year, which will be announced July 16 in Los Angeles. Today's spotlight: Clint Frazier (baseball).
Clint Frazier had always wondered what this time would be like.
The time after being picked No. 5 overall in the MLB draft by the Cleveland Indians; once all the high-fives and handshakes and interviews had died down. After he’d agreed to terms on a $3.5 million contract and chopped it up and exchanged cell phone numbers with Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi. The time when he was off to Goodyear, Ariz., to begin his professional career with the Tribe’s rookie-level Arizona League Indians.
“It’s something I’ve definitely daydreamed about,” said Frazier, who hit .485 and cranked out 17 home runs at Loganville (Loganville, Ga.) this past season. “And now it’s here. It’s a little surreal. I’m just the kind of guy who just wants to play baseball. That’s how I do it.”
It’s that simple approach that helped him claim the 2012-13 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award, and made him a finalist for the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year award.
MORE WITH GATORADE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS:
Max Browne (football)
Lauren Carlini (volleyball)
Sarah Baxter (girls cross country)
Andrew Wiggins (boys basketball)
Mercedes Russell (girls basketball)
Carley Hoover (softball)
Morgan Andrews (girls soccer)
Cristian Roldan (baseball)
“I’m speechless,” Frazier said when he learned that he’d won the prestigious award. “That’s awesome. I know there are a lot of great players out there and to win it means a lot to me and my family. This will motivate me even more while I’m starting my career out. Everything’s been a big adjustment.”
The biggest adjustment? Finding food.
“It’s crazy because I’m used to having my mom and dad’s home cooking and now I’m having to go buy my own food,” Frazier said. “Being on your own is tough and I’m pretty cheap. I don’t like spending a lot of money, but I have to keep eating because I’m dropping weight. It’s different. I’m just learning as I go along.”
Frazier learned that lesson on draft night.
He was convinced that he’d end up being picked at No. 7 by the Boston Red Sox.
“I just had a feeling,” said Frazier, an outfielder. “I didn’t know until an hour before the draft that I was going to Cleveland. I was told that the Red Sox called the Indians and said if they hadn’t taken me at No. 5 the Sox would’ve taken me at No. 7. But I’m really excited about the Indians. I love the team and the organization. Now I’m just ready to get started.”
If finding food has been Frazier’s biggest adjustment thus far, finding patience has been a close second. Frazier’s father, Mark Frazier, has fielded a few of Clint’s “anxious calls” in the past few weeks and has encouraged him to learn the virtue of patience.
“It’s funny because I know he’s just so ready to get out there and play, but they want to bring him along slow,” Mark said. “He calls me and says ‘Dad, I just wanna DH or something.’ It’s pretty funny; I just remind him that he’s living his dream and in due time he’ll be out there playing a bunch.”
Clint said that it helps to reflect on his high school season and some of the highlights.
“My favorite memory is winning the state title my junior year,” Frazier said. “But my senior year, the best memory was the game against Grayson because they had Austin Meadows. There were so many fans and scouts there and I hit two home runs; that was a great feeling.”
He’ll experience the same rush in the big leagues, Loganville baseball coach Jeff Segars is confident of that.
“Clint is the best player that I’ve ever coached,” Segars said of Frazier, who finished with 63 career home runs which is second all-time in Georgia. “I’ve coached one other MLB player, Brandon Moss (Oakland A’s), and at this point in his career, Clint is further along and has been more productive. He’ll be successful. There’s no doubt about it.”
Frazier is equally confident that his time will come. He’s even making strides with the process that is his patience.
“I’m gonna do whatever the organization thinks is best,” Frazier said. “I’m just excited. Everyone has a dream, but when you’re actually living it and pursuing it… It’s just hard to explain that feeling.”
Here is more from Frazier's conversation with USA TODAY High School Sports' Jason Jordan.
You homered twice in the biggest game of the season against Grayson. What was that like?
Frazier: It was a rush. Honestly, I couldn’t have scripted it better. The game was packed and to have a great game in that setting is like a dream come true.
What was it like to hear your name called at No. 5 in the MLB draft?
Frazier: It was crazy! All of this is so new to me; I still can’t believe that I’m living my dream.
What was the hardest part about leaving home and going off on your own for the first time?
Frazier: Definitely leaving my family. We’re all really close. So not having them physically here with me is definitely the toughest part.
What was it like getting to pick Jason Giambi’s brain on draft day?
Frazier: Oh that was just surreal. I’ve always looked up to him and admired him so to be able to talk with him and stay in touch with him has been great.
What do you anticipate the biggest learning curve will be at the next level?
Frazier: Probably adjusting to the pitching. Guys just throw harder on this level and I’ll have to adjust to that. I feel confident that I’ll make the adjustment though.
Do you have a goal on when you want to make the majors?
Frazier: Kind of, but I don’t know I’m just gonna play as hard as possible and let it happen. It’s not guaranteed so I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.