HONOLULU-Before he faced the North Shore Honu on the field, Waikiki BeachBoys infielder Todd Frazier got up close and personal with a real honu, or a Hawaiian sea turtle.
During one of Hawaii Winter Baseball’s off days, Frazier and a couple of teammates went to Hanauma Bay, a popular tourist attraction on Oahu. At this nature preserve, marine life is not threatened by people who wish to swim with the fish.
“I was swimming with the snorkel gear and stuff and my hand hit something,” Frazier said of his experience at Hanauma Bay. “I looked up. It was a turtle.”
It might as well have been a shark.
“I started screaming,” Frazier said. “Seeing these sea turtles scared me a little bit. Started screaming and everybody’s going, ‘What’s happening?’ The sea turtle’s hanging out (with us) out there. It was great.”
But before his employer, the Reds, get the wrong impression, it isn’t all play for Frazier, the 11th-rated prospect this season in the high Class A Florida State League. The 34th overall pick in 2007 is doing what he has done since turning pro: Playing different positions and hitting.
After a week of play, he has started in all eight games for the BeachBoys, playing four positions. He has logged three games at first base, three at shortstop – his natural position, he says, because he has played it since Little League – once at third and once in left field. Frazier has played those four positions at one time or another during his first two pro seasons.
“My natural position is shortstop, but I don’t mind playing the other positions,” he said. “In the summer, they wanted me to work a little third, a little short, little first base and a little outfield. I have all kinds of gloves that I can use.”
He doesn’t know which position is in his future. But he does know playing more than one increases his chances of moving up.
“That’s definitely a plus,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
What is clear for Frazier is that he can hit.
Scouts here concur with previous assessments that Frazier’s swing isn’t smooth. Yet, there is no doubting the results. He has a hit in six of the eight games and is seventh in HWB with a .355 batting average. His nine RBIs were tied for the league lead as of Oct. 6 and he was second with five doubles. He also has homered. He said he is learning to be more selective at the plate.
Frazier has noticed the pitching in HWB is slightly more advanced than what he saw in the FSL.
“It’s the best of the best here,” he said. “(Pitchers are) spotting up a lot better and hitting their spots. Sometimes, it’s, ‘How’d he get that on the corner?’ Definitely, it’s a lot better. It’s good for me because if you do good against this pitching, there’s no telling what can happen.”
Obviously, Frazier is pleased that the Reds assigned him here. He said the furthest west he had traveled before arriving here was Idaho. The New Jersey native—he was a member of the 1998 Toms River, N.J., Little League World Series championship team—said he struggled with the 11-hour plane flight to the 50th state.
But now that he’s here, he’s making the most of the opportunity.
“Coming to Hawaii, I know it’s a great place to be,” he said. “Everybody at home is kind of jealous. I was excited and for the most part, it’s been great here. I wish I could live here my whole time because the weather’s perfect. I’m having a good time.”
The Honolulu Sharks’ outfield looks like a Stanford reunion.
Left fielder Michael Taylor (Phillies) and right fielder James Rapoport (Cardinals) were teammates for two season at the Pacific 10 school. Rapoport was a 35th-round selection in 2006, while Taylor was a fifth-round pick a year later.
Rapoport is one of HWB’s hottest hitters. As of Oct. 6, he was second in the league in hitting at .435, had the best on-base percentage at .552 and was third in slugging at .609. Rapoport, who in 2006 led the short-season New York-Penn League with 24 steals, also has two steals without being caught thus far.
Taylor, the 10th-ranked prospect in the FSL, was hitting .263 with a home run and two RBIs with two steals without being caught.
“It’s nice to be with another Stanford guy now that I’m in the Cardinals organization,” Rapoport said. “It’s fun to play with a guy I played with for two years.”
Taylor has a distant tie to Hawaii. He said his parents worked in Hawaii for about three years after they graduated from the University of Maryland.