Lately, the Cincinnati Reds have been on a youth movement, building their team from the farm system. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are both great examples of that.
But there is another prospect in the Reds' farm system who will be a star when he gets the call to the majors.
That future star is Todd Frazier.
Some people might be scratching their heads, wondering who this kid is. Allow me to make the formal introductions for you.
Frazier is only 23 but not shy of being in the spotlight.
In the 1998 Little League World Series, Frazier, who was 12 at the time, was the main star for the Toms River, New Jersey team that won the championship that season by defeating Japan. Frazier went 4-for-4 with a clutch, late-inning home run that helped the Toms River team defeat Japan. After that game, the team was on every talk show from Rosie O'Donnell to Oprah Winfrey.
Frazier's next path was being the star of the Toms River High School South Indians baseball team. In his freshman year of 2001, he started in center field and batted .350. The team got to the New Jersey state finals but lost the final game.
His sophomore year Frazier was moved to shortstop, his most natural position, and moved from the No. 3 hole to leadoff. Frazier was the leading hitter of that team, batting nearly .400, and led the team in home runs.
That year, the Indians went 8-1 down the stretch to finish 20-9 and won the New Jersey State Championship. Frazier, now 16, had already won two major titles before he had even driven a car yet. He was named second team All-State in New Jersey.
His junior year was even better. Frazier batted over .420 as the leadoff hitter, belted over 10 home runs (which is like 40 in MLB comparisons), and helped guide the Indians in 2003 to a second New Jersey State Championship. Frazier was also named First Team All-State in New Jersey. Frazier had won back-to-back titles in high school.
His senior year, the Indians were still a playoff team but regressed, as they finished 18-10 and were eliminated from the New Jersey state playoffs in the semifinals. But Frazier ended up breaking several school records, including the one for home runs. Frazier hit .521 that year and ended his high school career with a .443 average.
In the June 2004 MLB Draft, Frazier was selected in the 37th round by the Colorado Rockies but did not sign with them because of his scholastic obligations to Rutgers University.
Frazier shined at Rutgers. In 2005, he won All-American honors from Baseball America. In 2007, he was a First-Team All-American and was named 2007 Big East Player of the Year. He finished 2007 with 22 home runs, which was fourth best in the nation. He finished his career with Rutgers as a .347 hitter.
In the June 2007 MLB Draft, the Reds drafted Frazier in the first round as a supplemental draft pick.
In 2008, Frazier played 100 games for the lower-level Single-A Sarasota Reds, hitting .281 with 12 home runs and 54 RBI, and then finished playing 30 games with the higher-level Single-A Dayton Dragons, hitting .321 with seven home runs and 20 RBI.
So in 2008, Frazier finished with a .301 average, hitting 19 home runs and 74 RBI. Not too bad as a 22-year-old in his first season in baseball, even if it is the minors.
So far in 2009, while playing for the Double-A Carolina Mudcats, Frazier is hitting .312 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI, plus was named as a starter in left field for the Southern League All-Star Game.
You might be wondering how I know so much about Frazier. I was one of his teammates in high school on the 2001 and 2002 teams, so I too was a part of that state championship squad. I've seen Todd evolve from a 12-year-old prodigy into a 23-year-old slugger with so much potential.
Frazier's family is not unfamiliar to the Major League scene; Frazier's eldest brother Charlie was drafted by the Marlins in 1999, and their middle brother Jeff was drafted by the Tigers in 2004 in the third round. Jeff is currently with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens as an outfielder and hitting .270 (Jeff is also one of my former teammates from high school and is getting closer to making the major leagues).
At 6'3" and 220 pounds, Frazier has the power to slug home runs like Alex Rodriguez, hit for average like Joe Mauer, and play great defense like Torii Hunter in the outfield and Derek Jeter in the infield. Frazier is currently a left fielder, but if needed, he can play shortstop, third base, and first base, plus has a history of pitching.
Anywhere he is positioned, he is going to do well. His history says so.
So Reds fans, get ready for the next superstar to get called up to play alongside Bruce, Votto, and Brandon Phillips.
Frazier might be a young adult at 23, but the spotlight has never scared him since he was on national television as a 12-year-old. Once called up, Frazier will be a star in the majors for years to come.
For you Reds fans, you just have to hope Walt Jocketty doesn't deal Frazier away before he gets to put on that Cincinnati uniform, because I promise you, he is worth waiting to see play.