Meadows And Frazier Both Have Premium Tools
As toolsy high school outfielders from high schools in the same town, Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier will always be linked. They entered the year as the top two high school players in the country on Baseball America's Top 100 list. Meadows, from Grayson High in Loganville, Ga., ranked No. 1 and Frazier, from Loganville (Ga.) High, ranked No. 2.
After Frazier stole the show when the two teams faced off on March 12, those rankings may be flip-flopping.
"These guys see a ton of baseball," a scout said about his colleagues. "Think about how much it takes to put people in awe, that see this much baseball. And I think people were walking out of the park saying, 'Wow.' Tools, performance, anything you wanted, it was there. On top of that, it was on the big stage, in front of probably the most pressure-packed situation he's been in, and he goes out and hits not one, but two jacks."
I spoke to an American League scouting director, a National League crosschecker and an American League area scout to break down the two players and compare their tools, side-by-side. Here is what they had to say . . .
Meadows has a smooth, lefthanded swing with a patient approach and the ability to hit well to all-fields.
"You look at Meadows, I think he's probably more of a pure hitter," the area scout said. "He uses his hands really well. He has a better swing and probably more plate discipline, and he has the ability to go the other way a little better."
"They're both kind of power-based guys for me," the scouting director said. "I've seen both of them quite a bit over the last year, year and a half. It was a tough day for Meadows, but he's a very good hitter."
Frazier is a righthanded hitter with a more compact swing.
"I think Frazier's going to swing and miss some, you're just going to have to live with it," the crosschecker said. "He's going to mis-hit some balls and get hits out of them. Meadows may have the higher ceiling as a pure hitter, because I think he's going to be more controlled. He's probably going to have the better chance to hit the ball all around the field and be more patient at the plate."
"They're both pretty similar, I think," the scouting director said. "Frazier is a little more compact and Meadows is a little more upright, with a little more leverage to his swing. But there's some kind of twitch to Frazier. He's a little bit more of a twitchier athlete."
"Frazier is more of a typical middle-of-the-lineup kind of guy," the area scout said. "You're going to get some swing and misses. I don't think he covers the plate really well in the bottom of the zone and he struggles with breaking balls, but he probably has the best bat speed in the country."
In batting practice, Frazier put on a show. He hit 23 home runs, showing huge power to all fields.
"In BP, it was obvious," the crosschecker said. "It looked like Meadows had more of an approach during BP—he was trying to go backside a little bit. The swing for Meadows didn't look the same in BP as it did in the game. It was two-partish and robotic in BP and in the game it got a little more fluid. But I think there's no question in the power for Frazier."
Frazier has so much power because his swing is very short and very fast.
"Frazier has a rocking body load and he doesn't have a lot of separation, but the biggest thing is it's so short and so direct and so compact—that's how he does so much damage," the crosschecker said. "You see guys with bat speed, but they get long and they get extended too early. This guy is short, direct to the ball. Obviously he has a little different finish, but I think the finish is just the back end. It's about what he does at contact . . . and I dare you to go around the country and find somebody with better bat speed."
Batting practice is nice, but Frazier didn't just put on a clinic at 4 o' clock. He hit two home runs in the game. The first home run impressed even the scouts.
"I was trying to think how many amateur guys I've seen hit balls that far," the crosschecker said. "And there aren't many. I could go back to Pat Burrell. He hit balls a pretty good ways, but they didn't have that kind of quickness off the bat, they were just hit a long ways. Frazier's were hit a long ways and just smoked. They look like they were shot out of a cannon."
Meadows has power too, but is probably more of a 25-home run guy at his peak, as opposed to a 40-home run threat.
"I don't question either of those guys' power," the scouting director said. "That's the least of my worries on those two players."
SPEED & DEFENSE
These grades are linked, as both players play center field now.
There is some debate here. Both players showed similar raw speed last summer at the East Coast Professional Showcase. Frazier ran the 60-yard dash in 6.60 seconds and Meadows was just a hair behind at 6.64. Since then, Frazier is about 10 pounds lighter than he was in the summer and Meadows gained about 15 pounds.
Scouts will wait to see how each player's speed progresses as they get older, but Meadows is the more instinctual fielder. That should be expected, as he's played center field much longer. Frazier grew up playing shortstop and third base and just moved to center field about a year and a half ago.
"I think Austin has a little better instincts in center than Clint," the area scout said. "And Clint may stay there. The worst-case scenario is that you've got a corner, power bat. I'd run both those guys out in center field."
Some scouts believe Frazier's lack of instincts will force a move to right field—especially if he's more of a 60 runner as he gets older, instead of a 70. Others think Meadows will move to left field because he's already 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds.
"I have a hard time saying Meadows is going to be a middle-of-the-field player," the scouting director said. "Just the size of a kid that age, he's going to get bigger, he's going to get stronger. And it's not like that's a bad thing—you can say that about a lot of guys, but I have a hard time seeing that guy playing center field in the major leagues."
Meadows' arm strength was his weakest tool on the summer showcase circuit, but it's gotten better since then.
"It's an average arm and he's worked hard this fall on that," the area scout said. "It's going to be good enough to play where he's going to be."
Frazier has plenty of arm strength. He threw a strike from mid-center field in Loganville's warmups before the game.
"It's definitely a plus arm," the area scout said. "He's got enough arm to play all three outfield spots."
For all the similarities, there are also plenty of differences. Meadows does everything smooth and easy. Frazier, pardon the pun, plays like his hair is on fire.
"That's how he's been his whole life," the area scout said. "The bigger the stage, the bigger the game, he's just an animal. You could take the top 40 kids in the country and put them in a steel cage and say, 'Who comes out with the baseball will go first,' and I'd bet you that kid would go first. That's just his mentality."
There won't be a steel cage in the MLB Network studio on June 6. Both players are still the cream of the crop and scouts are still divided as to which one will be the better major leaguer.