Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Although my tenure as an intern for the Syracuse Chiefs feels like a blur at times, my brain has still retained many of the fond memories that made that summer so special.
Making $0 an hour wasn't one of them, but hey, that's called "paying your dues."
What I remember most were the players because a lot of good ones walked through the doors at Alliance Bank Stadium that season.
I saw it all. Future stars (Aroldis Chapman and Jeremy Hellickson), journeymen (Justin Maxwell and Pete Orr), veterans trying to climb their way back to the top one last time (Kevin Mench and Dan Johnson).
Not that I blame them, but most of these players didn't have much use for a lowly unpaid intern like myself. I couldn't help them hit the curve ball and they probably wouldn't have been much help to me fixing a printer jam or working the fax machine.
Once in a blue moon I'd get a hello or some kind of simple acknowledgment. Stephen Strasburg nodded at me once. That was the extent of our relationship.
But one player always had time to talk to me. Too much time actually. I think he would have told me his life story had I allowed it.
This chatterbox went by the name of Todd Frazier.
I learned pretty quickly that Frazier loves to talk, but lately his bat has been doing most of the talking for him.
In between talking, eating and sleeping, Frazier must have learned how to hit at some point.
Frazier will enter Thursday's game against the New York Mets with 13 hits and a sizzling .565 average over his last six games. In a little over a week, he's raised his batting average with the Cincinnati Reds from .262 to a very solid .286.
Not bad for a guy who was still toiling in Triple-A Louisville at the start of the season.
Joey Votto's knee injury opened up a spot at first base for Frazier, who had been splitting time at the hot corner with veteran Scott Rolen until this opportunity presented itself in mid-July. The rest is history.
Since the All-Star break, Frazier has crushed National League pitching to the tune of a .300 average and 20 RBI in 30 games.
Frazier hadn't been doing poorly before Votto's knee gave out, but now that his name is featured on the lineup card daily, fantasy owners have really started to take notice.
Frazier's current averages put him on pace to finish 2012 with 21 homers and 68 RBI. Because he started the year in the minors, Frazier is only projected to appear in 125 games. Had Frazier been in Cincinnati at the start of the year and participated in every game up to this point, he'd be up to nearly 20 homers by now with approximately 64 RBI. Those stats are well above the 15 long balls and 49 runs driven in that Frazier has actually posted so far.
If that were the case though, the 26-year-old would be near the top of the leaderboard in just about every offensive category among major league third baseman. Twenty dingers would put Frazier in sole possession of third place, trailing only Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez (21 bombs this season) and Detroit MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera (30 homers).
If you stretch Frazier's production in 90 games over a full season (162 games) he'd finish with a solid 27 homers and 88 RBI. That's top-five fantasy third baseman material right there.
Let's imagine Frazier's current post All-Star break stats are sustainable and that he could keep it up for a full 162-game slate. That would average out to 32 jacks and 108 RBI. Those stats compare pretty favorably to Adrian Beltre's statline from a season ago when he led all big-league third basemen in homers and runs driven in (32 HR, 105 RBI).
Of course, just like any developing young player, Frazier has his flaws.
His two-strike approach could definitely use some fine-tuning as evidenced by the multitude of strikeouts he's produced this season (74 K's in just 290 at bats). And despite recording an eye-opening 17 steals in 90 games in Triple-A last season, the 6-foot-3 Frazier has yet to make his presence felt on the base paths at the major league level (2-for-4 on steal attempts this year).
My belief is that both of these shortcomings will evaporate for Frazier as he continues to get more and more experience. Remember, he has only partaken in a grand total of 131 major league games up to this point. There's still plenty of time for Frazier to work out all the kinks.
So the burning question is, what will happen to Frazier when Joey Votto inevitably returns to the lineup sometime in the next month? Will Scott Rolen relinquish his stranglehold on the third base job or will Frazier be the one who gets pushed aside?
Though Rolen has performed admirably over the last month (.409 average in August), he's no longer much of a power threat (only six homers in 200 at bats this season) and at age 37, his body can't endure a full workload anymore. My guess is Rolen will mostly sit once Votto returns, though he could see action from time to time if the Reds decide to use Frazier as an occasional outfielder (he's made five starts in left field this season).
Last week in an interview with Tim Kurkjian, Frazier detailed the story of when he saved a choking man's life at a restaurant in Pittsburgh earlier in the season. Maybe Frazier is just the shot of life your fantasy team needs to survive the rest of the year.
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