Loganville (Ga.) senior outfielder Clint Frazier got some good news and some bad news this morning from former Cy Young Award winner John Smoltz. While taping an interview with the teen, Smoltz, now an MLB Network analyst, stopped the cameras and confessed that the sit-down was a fake. The good news? The interview was an elaborate ruse for Smoltz to surprise Frazier with the 2012-13 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year trophy.
“This is mind-blowing,” said Frazier, a Georgia signee projected as a high first round pick in this week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. “I’m honored to be considered, but I did not expect to actually win this award. This is definitely something you set goals by. To see LeBron James’ name on that trophy along with all the others, that’s just humbling to be in that presence.”
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound centerfielder batted .485 with 17 home runs, 56 runs scored, 45 RBI and a 1.134 slugging percentage, leading the Red Devils (26-6) to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals this past season. A 2012 Aflac and Under Armour All-American, Frazier is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in his class by Perfect Game USA. The right-handed power hitter concluded his prep career with a school-record 63 home runs, eclipsing the previous mark of 27 set by current Oakland A’s first baseman Brandon Moss.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court. Frazier is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. USA Today High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
“I think Frazier is the best high school prospect in the country,” said Jim Callis, Executive Editor at Baseball America. “He refuses to get cheated at the plate. He barrels balls. He’s had a great year and he’s a very deserving winner.”
Frazier earned MVP honors at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game. He was also recognized by Perfect Game USA as the national Jackie Robinson Award winner. In four varsity seasons, Frazier led the Red Devils to three region titles, the state final four and a state championship in 2012. As a senior, he stroked 53 percent of his hits for extra bases, recording an OPS of 1.695. He added 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts.
“This is one of those milestones as a player that you never forget,” said Smoltz, 46, who posted National League season bests in both wins and saves during the course of his 21-year career. “I was able to make a difference off the field because I wore a big league uniform, but he’s already doing that at such young age. It’s easy to celebrate talent. It’s much harder to be a great talent and carry out the off-the-field work ethic that good grades and community service require.”
Frazier has maintained an 85.3 average in the classroom. He has donated two weeks of his time annually as a counselor and instructor at an intensive summer youth baseball camp in the area. He has also volunteered on behalf of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego as a goodwill ambassador to patients.
Frazier becomes the sixth athlete from Georgia to earn national Gatorade honors in any sport. He is the second national baseball winner from Georgia in the past four years, joining LA Angels Double-A third base prospect Kaleb Cowart, who won as a high school senior in 2009-10. Other national winners from Georgia include basketball superstars Dwight Howard (2003-04) and Maya Moore (2006-07).
California has produced the most national winners in the award program’s 28-year history with 60 followed by Texas (27), Florida (19) and Illinois (15).