Chris Antonetti spoke with MLB Network Radio earlier today, and he may have ignited a runaway hype train. I have not had a chance to hear the actual interview, but the MLB Network Twitter account was sending out snippets and one, in particular, should be of special interest to any Cleveland Indians fan with an eye on the minor leagues:
Antonetti says that Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier have become options "whether that becomes the latter part of this year we'll see."— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) June 15, 2016
"Call up Frazier and Zimmer" has been a frequent half-baked chant in the social media comment section of any article discussing the struggles of Cleveland's outfield, but patience has been the name of the game so far. Both Frazier and Zimmer are currently in Double-A and should be moving up at some point, even if they are still striking out quite a bit.
Most of the strikeout issues have been from Zimmer, who is currently whiffing in 30.8 percent of his at-bats, which would be the highest mark for him at any level in the minors. His previous high was last year in 49 games at Double-A when he struck out in 25.2 percent of his at-bats. While Frazier's 20.2 percent strikeout rate may be a little high for some people's liking, it is continuing a trend of a better approach at the plate in each new level of the minors that Frazier has been on. Take a look at Frazier's walk and strikeout rates in his career so far:
- 2013 (Rookie): 8.7 BB%, 31.1 K%
- 2014 (Class-A): 10.3 BB%, 29.7 K%
- 2015 (Fall): 7.1 BB%, 27.6 K%
- 2015 (High-A): 11.6 BB%, 21.3 K%
- 2016 (Double-A): 13.0 BB%, 20.2 K%
Frazier has oscillated between being outstanding and just really good this season in Double-A, and it has resulted in a .308/.402/.500 slash, good for a career-best 156 wRC+. Zimmer, on the other hand, has struggled at times but his slash still remains a respectable .237/.363/.484. Both are hitting for a ton of power, and both look like they could ascend to at least Triple-A soon.
But before you get too excited and start demanding a call-up, just remember that, by the sounds of it, Antonetti was not exactly saying they are going to be called up when the rosters expand to 40-man in September or anything. Just that they have become options. Options are good.
Not saying it'll happen but the idea of opening the 2017 season with a Naquin-Zimmer-Frazier outfield makes me all tingly.