Frank Frias started his professional baseball career as a 19 year old, and it started quietly as an under the radar signing no one heard about. He started his playing career, however, with a bang. He mashed in the DSL and showed both speed and power. He ended up hitting .305/.434/.433/.867 on his way to earning a trip to the USA the following year.
In the GCL in 2014, he continued to show promise. He hit .313/.383/.388/.771 with 11 SB, four doubles, and three triples in his first season in the states. Unfortunately his season ended in turmoil, as he suffered a gruesome ankle injury. The injury was similar to the one that basically ended the once promising careers of David Adams and Ravel Santana. Most thought he would miss the entire 2015 season, much like Adams and Santana did following their injuries.
Frias, showing his resilience, didn’t get the memo and decided to rehab like a maniac. Amazingly, he returned to make it back for the 2015 season in Pulaski, where he proceeded to have perhaps his finest season as a professional yet. Getting frequent rest days, Frias managed to stay focused and hit .298/.424/.500/.924 with five homeruns, six doubles, and two triples in 41 games. He did not steal many bases but I’m sure that was by design. By all accounts, when he was out there it was the same old Frias from the year prior.
Age: 21 (Born March 29th, 1994 in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic)
Signed: 2013 for unknown amount
Best tool: Arm strength
Frias has the tools to stay in centerfield, but he may not stay there long term simply because there are others who are better defensively. He has above average speed even after the injury, and takes good routes. He has a rocket for an arm as well, making him an ideal candidate to stick at any position in the outfield.
As you might guess by his numbers, his best tools in the batter’s box are his patience and hit tool. He has good bat speed, and at his size and build he will likely add power as he develops his man strength. One thing he could stand to work on is cutting down on strikeouts. That problem often accompanies the patience tool. Perhaps, like many other young prospects, he too needs to become more aggressive within the zone.
There’s no question that Frias lost a step after the ankle fracture he suffered. Once a plus runner, speed is still a strength for him but not nearly like it once was. He only stole three bases this year, although it was at least in part from lack of trying. This season he will be a full year and a half out from the injury. I suspect that he will be faster than he was last year going forward, but not as fast as he was prior to the injury. It remains to be seen if he can tap into that for some serious stolen base potential.
Frias is a different kind of prospect. His trajectory could go in several different ways, or it could go in all ways at once depending on how he develops physically and how he recovers from his injury. The ceiling is actually pretty immense, as he does possess five tools, albeit only one of them a true plus tool. If his whole package came together and he tapped into every piece of his potential, he could be a 30/30 guy who is also an above average center fielder or even a plus corner outfielder. It’s unlikely that he will become that kind of player, but the talent is in there. As a relatively older kid who will now be turning 22 this year, he’ll have to move fast now and has the floor of a guy who flames out at any one of the steps up the minor league ladder.
In all likelihood he’ll start in Charleston next season, and there won’t be much in the way of outfield talent blocking him in High-A. If he gets off to a good start, or proves he’s ready at any point, he’ll be sent to High-A to finish the year. If all goes well he could be ready for the majors by 2018, which would make him 24 years old.
With Frias, this is one of those cool situations where he started off with the organization as an unheralded, low budget signing and has the tools to become much more than that. If he takes off he will be a great find and a great story.