On Monday, June 24, I met up with the Yankees AAA affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in Rochester, New York for a matchup with the Minnesota Twins’ AAA affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings.
The Rail Riders sit in first place in the North Division of the International Leauge keeping pace with their father team, the Yankees. The Red Wings, on the other hand, are out of sync with the first place Twins, and sit 8 games back of the Rail Riders in the International Leauge North, in fourth place.
I arrived at Frontier Field in Rochester, New York two hours before first pitch, hoping to get a good spot near the third base dugout to catch Clint Frazier for an autograph.
While waiting for the gates to open, quite a few autograph hunters queued up behind me and we had some discussions regarding Frazier and the possible trades looming at the end of July.
Some fans were decked out in all Yankees gear, making the trip to see the Yankees-of-tomorrow, but some were dressed like me. Torn between affiliations, I sported a Red Wings hat for my hometown team and a Yankees t-shirt for my favorite major league team.
I overheard concerned fans worry about Gleyber Torres being traded for Max Scherzer or Trevor Bauer, but the name that came up most often was Frazier.
Frazier, who is has hit 11 home runs in the majors this season, was sent down to Scranton to make room for all the Yankees returning from the injured list. 147 points separate his minor and major league batting average, and spoiler alert, his MLB average is better.
We all decided Frazier is the prime name to be attached to pitching reinforcements, so we all wanted to catch him before he slips through our grasps.
One fan told me his demotion has visibly affected Frazier, showing up alone to Frontier Field, carrying a few of his bats. He also elected to ride the bus from the hotel, passing up the opportunity to walk to the stadium with his AAA teammates and absorb the sights of the lovely Flower/Flour City of Rochester.
Regardless, Frazier was in good enough spirits to sign autographs for a gaggle of young baseball fans, including myself.
I told him he was a favorite on my podcast, The Yankee Nation Podcast, and he smiled and said he appreciated it.
I also noticed Frazier was growing out some serious facial hair. It was no Keuchel beard, but without the watchful eye of the Yankees looming directly over him, Frazier has allowed his 5’o’clock shadow to grow into “two or three-day shadow.”
Also, up until the first pitch, Frazier was wearing a #7 jersey while warming up. He changed into his normal #77 prior to his first AB, where he grounded out harmlessly.
The actual game between the Red Wings and RailRiders started right on time at 7:05 and followed a very exciting script.
Here’s my scorebook recording the evening’s events. I’m no Brian Hoch, but I enjoy documenting each pitch and it helps me pay attention and really appreciate every instance of the game.
One interesting thing I noticed was the positioning of some familiar faces. Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada, who have both spent time with the MLB team, were positioned at shortstop and second base, respectively.
Wade, playing shortstop for the RailRiders on this particular night, played 12 games at second for the Yankees with no appearances at short.
However, Estrada played 5 games at short during his time with the Yankees and 12 at second. On Monday, he was playing second which indicates the team’s plans for Estrada may include more time at second base with Didi in a contract year and Torres’ ability to play short as his natural position.
Estrada was tested early in the ballgame when the first pitch in bottom half of the first was sharply hit on the ground to second, and Estrada gracefully muffed the play.
Wade looked very fluid at short all night, making plays to his left and right.
Mike Ford also joined in on the defensive highlights when he made a catch falling into the stands in foul territory, combining the efforts of Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo and Yankee-legend, Derek Jeter.
Frazier had an opportunity to flash the leather in the first inning. Red Wings first baseman singled on a line drive to left, and Lamont Wade Jr., the Red Wings center fielder, tested Frazier’s arm.
At first, it seemed there would not be a play at home, but Frazier scooped up the hit, gathered himself and fired home. The ball skipped off the infield grass halfway up the third base line. The play ended up being closer than originally expected, but Wiel evaded the tag and ended up safe, notching the second Rochester run on the board.
The game would end up seeing two ties, one at 3-3 and one at 5-5, until Rochester right fielder Jaylin Davis untied the contest for good with a three-run blast to dead center field in the bottom of the 8th off of Joe Harvey.
Harvey has pitched to a 4.50 ERA in 9 games with the big boys in the MLB this year.
The RailRiders made a late 9th inning push at a comeback, beginning with a solo homer by catcher Erik Kratz.
It should be mentioned that Kratz was selected as the “Taco K-Man.” That meant if Kratz struck out, every fan in attendance would win a free taco.
Kratz must not be a fan of tacos. He did not cooperate with the Rochestarians and reached base safely in all four plate appearances.
Down 8-6 in the 9th win a man on base, Frazier represented the tying run as he made his way to the dish with his knee-high socks and stocky, athletic build.
His at-bat was quick, and he decisively struck out on four pitches. He spent more time slowly walking back to the dugout staring at the ground than he did at the plate. His disappointment was as apparent as his struggles at the plate, going 0-4 with a walk.
The takeaway from the game is Frazier is going to end up somewhere else by August, sadly. He needs a chance to play every day. Maybe the Stanton injury will open a door for him but regardless, he should not have to prey on teammates injuries for playing time like a backstabbing, experience-hungry vulture.
The kid can play; he has shown that already. And he has a big heart, giving up his time pregame to sign for fans (young and old). In the pursuit of the 28th Championship, it looks like Frazier will be collateral damage.