BRADENTON, Fla. – Matt Fraizer wants to get to 20/20 in 2022.
“That’s one of my goals this year for sure,” said Fraizer.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2021 Player of the Year is coming off a breakout season where he hit 23 home runs between High-A and Double-A, with a combined .939 OPS. He stole 15 bases, falling shy of his goal. If the Pirates get anything close to Fraizer’s performance in the upper levels, it would have to be seen as a win.
As to whether the outfield prospect can repeat the performance, Pirates’ hitting coordinator Jonny Tucker said the organization is trying to reassure Fraizer that the results from 2021 were the real deal.
“Much of the messaging we gave to him was have belief in yourself that this was not a fluke,” said Tucker. “What we’ve been trying to do as an organization is say ‘Dude, that is you. That wasn’t a thing that you did for a week, or two days, or a day. You did that for six months. You sustained that. That’s you.’ So really trying to instill belief in him is something that we’re trying to double-down on.”
Fraizer doesn’t lack confidence, but expecting results and seeing those results are two different things.
“I feel like I’ve always been very strong mentally,” said Fraizer. “Just going into the year and telling yourself I’m the best, it’s different saying it and actually believing it. And when your days go on, you start looking up and you look at ‘Oh, I actually am the best on the field.'”
Fraizer credits catching a foul ball out in front to the turning point of his breakout season. The ball would have been an easy home run, had it remained fair, which was all the feedback he needed to start his swing earlier.
“The mental cue I had was starting slower and earlier, which is where if you start earlier, obviously you’re able to see the pitch earlier, and then be able to make that decision earlier to catch it out in front,” said Fraizer.
The Pirates will likely return Fraizer to Altoona at the start of the 2022 season. Fraizer becomes one of the top candidates for the long-term outfield spots in Pittsburgh, with the capability of playing all three spots. If he repeats his breakout season, he could wind up in Pittsburgh by the end of the year.
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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.