The package netted by Brian Cashman and the Yankees in exchange for Andrew Miller is headlined by two big names in OF Clint Frazier and LHP Justus Sheffield (both of whom project as average-or-better regulars for me) and supplemented by two potential relievers in RHPs Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen.
Clint Frazier was the fifth-overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Loganville High School in Georgia. He was signed away from his commitment to Georgia with a $3.5 million bonus, the most lucrative bonus in Indians draft history. Frazier was a high-effort spark plug with elite bat speed, though he didn’t look like your typical high-upside prep draftee.
Before the draft, most organizations were correctly skeptical about Frazier’s long-term ability to play center field despite some of the run times he was posting (he ran a 6.6-second 60-yard dash at East Coast Pro) because of the way they anticipated his body to fill out. Frazier was listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds as an amateur but has grown into a listed 6-foot-1, 190, though he’s probably heavier than that. Despite his likely corner-only destiny, Frazier’s bat speed and advanced feel for hitting made him a worthy top-five selection, even if he had atypical physical projection.
Because of the superhuman circumference of his biceps and his generally muscular physique, Frazier is most often body-comped to Popeye the Sailor Man, a reference I hope doesn’t elude the youngest of our readers. Though he posts some plus run times to first base because of a natural jailbreak, he’s only about an average runner whose middling speed is masked by visible effort and good base-running instincts. Frazier’s speed and feel for center are enough that I think he’d be passable there in an emergency, but I wouldn’t advocate him playing there everyday. I think that, given his size and build just shy of age 22, Frazier is likely to slow down as he enters his prime. His arm strength should allow him to play in either outfield corner (though I think he fits best in left), where I believe he’ll be an average defender at maturity.
Frazier’s 80-grade bat speed has helped him generate a .278/.360/.452 career batting line. He’s hit despite the excessive loop his hands take back to the ball, a mechanical hiccup that I think causes his barrel to arrive late and robs him of the ability to pull the ball consistently. This could dilute his game power a bit, but Frazier is strong enough to muscle some of those balls out to right field anyway, and the new Yankee Stadium will be particularly kind to this flaw. Though his swing features a good bit of effort and Frazier has struggled some with strikeouts throughout his minor-league career, he still projects as an average Major League hitter. Again, the bat speed is the primary reason for this, but Frazier has shown that he has some barrel control and the ability to make adjustments in the middle of at-bats, as well. Reports on his makeup are glowing.
Though I think he’ll always swing and miss at an above-average clip, I’m optimistic about Frazier’s chance to become an above-average regular in New York. I think his power will play there as well as it would anywhere and, even if he only hits around .260, he’s ticketed for 20-plus annual homers.
LHP Justus Sheffield has made some changes to his repertoire this season. In high school, as well as early in his pro career, Sheffield’s secondary offering of choice was his curveball, but he was primarily fastball/slider when I saw him earlier this month. It was 84-86 mph and, at its best, featured tight, late-biting, two-plane movement. Others had shorter, more cutter-like break and Sheffield is still getting a feel for how to locate the slider effectively to various locations, but has already shown the ability to locate it inside against right-handed hitters. It flashed above average.
Sheffield’s fastball sits 91-94 and touches 95. The pitch comes in flat and hittable when Sheffield isn’t getting on top of it, an issue exacerbated by Sheffield’s height, a listed 5-foot-10. There’s some effort to his delivery and it does appear to inhibit Sheffield’s ability to throw strikes right now (he has walked 40 hitters in 90 innings this season), but the delivery is compact, Sheffield is a solid athlete and I’m comfortable projecting average control. The changeup, 83-86, comes in a little firm at times but it moves and I’ve it projected at average right now.
Though his overall profile is in a bit in flux right now because of the repertoire changes and the way his walk rate has backpedaled a bit this season, Sheffield still projects as a league-average starter.
The other two pieces in the trade both project as relievers. Quick-armed, deceptive righty Ben Heller has been up to 98 with sink and throw an acceptable amount of strikes despite a high effort delivery. He doesn’t get on top of his breaking ball consistently and it can get slurvy and blunt. J.P. Feyereisen sits 92-95 with an above-average breaking ball. Both projects as middle relievers for me.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.