The Pittsburgh Pirates have drafted Arizona center fielder Matt Fraizer in the third round of the 2019 draft. Fraizer is ranked 272nd overall by Baseball America, making this pick look like a move to save some slot money for the later rounds. That’s not to say that Fraizer doesn’t have some interesting tools.
Baseball America notes that he should remain in center field due to his plus speed and a fringe average arm. This is the third center fielder the Pirates have drafted, and the second college guy, so he might have some competition with Matt Gorski. However, Fraizer projects as a better defender, and could get the nod.
Offensively, Fraizer was doing a good job of making contact this year, while also hitting for more power. He’s got average power upside, and profiles more as a gap hitter. He hit for a .412/.452/.565 line this year in 85 at-bats before being shut down with hamate surgery. He had the surgery at the end of March, so he could be able to play this summer in Morgantown.
Since power isn’t a huge part of his game, he shouldn’t be impacted significantly by the surgery. He looks like a guy who could make the majors just off his defense and contact skills, with the floor of a bench player or depth guy, and the upside of a starter if he makes enough contact or adds even average power.
UPDATE 2:04 PM: Fraizer’s offensive improvements this year came after a swing overhaul last year (h/t TNBucs for the link), using Blast technology and modeling his swing after MLB hitters. It’s always good to see offensive improvements explained by an adjustment, as it gives reason for the improved numbers. This also makes you wonder if Fraizer might have gone higher if he stayed healthy and had this offense all season.