By Jason Shetler
During his tenure as Pirates General Manager, Neal Huntington has selected his fair share of diamond in the rough players in the MLB Draft. Perhaps his best has been Adam Frazier, who was a sixth round selection by the Pirates in 2013 out of Mississippi State.
Frazier quietly became one of the more consistent offensive players in the Pirates system. In 1,520 minor league plate appearances, he posted a .363 on base percentage and had a wRC+ of 122.
Coming up as a shortstop, Frazier had some major defensive issues, as he committed 52 errors combined in a two year span with the Bradenton Marauders (2014) and the Altoona Curve (2015). He began the 2016 season with the Indianapolis Indians. Although he was a starter, the Indians had him playing multiple positions, much like the Pirates did with Josh Harrison in 2014. Frazier had a strong showing at the plate for Indianapolis, posting a .401 OBP along with a 141 wRC+. He received his call up to the Pirates on June 24th. In 160 plate appearances with Pittsburgh, Frazier put up an OBP of .356 with a 110 wRC+.
During the offseason, there were reports that the Pirates were open to the possibility of trading Josh Harrison. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the plan was for the Pirates to trade Harrison, if they were to re-sign Sean Rodriguez, which of course did not happen. There was also speculation of a Harrison trade leading to Frazier becoming the everyday second baseman. Frazier’s defensive metrics at second base were below average with the Pirates last year, with a -1.4 UZR and no Defensive Runs Saved. While Frazier would be an upgrade over Harrison offensively in the on base department, there are question marks surrounding his defensive play. As of right now, it makes sense having Frazier in a super utility role, but if he’s able to make strides on days playing second base and turns himself into a league average defender, then it becomes an easier decision to make Harrison expendable and plug in Frazier at second moving forward.