Name: Seth Frankoff
Height/Weight: 6’5’’, 205
How Acquired: Drafted in the 27th round in 2010
Since moving from the starting rotation into the bullpen midway through the 2012 season, Seth Frankoff’s career has been on an upswing. After a productive season split between Double-A and Triple-A, Frankoff sits on the verge of a major-league call-up.
A 27th-round pick in 2010 out of UNC-Wilmington, Frankoff spent the first two years of his professional career as a starter. He showed promise in that role at the short-season levels, but he struggled in two stints as a starter in Low-A in 2011 and in 2012. After a handful of starts in 2012, Frankoff moved from the rotation to the bullpen, and he hasn’t looked back since.
In 2012, Frankoff had a 9.17 ERA in nine starts for the Bees. His numbers improved dramatically as a reliever: 2.51 ERA and a 49:19 K:BB in 68 innings. The next season, Frankoff moved to the hitter-friendly California League, and he pitched even better than he did in the Midwest League. In 74.1 innings, Frankoff had a 2.78 ERA and a 93:23 K:BB. He allowed only six homeruns and had a 1.42 GO/AO.
Frankoff’s performance with the Ports landed him firmly on the prospect radar and earned him a trip to the Arizona Fall League. Frankoff pitched extremely well in the AFL, allowing just two runs in 12.1 innings. He struck-out 15, walked only three and gave-up just eight hits. Frankoff followed that performance with a solid spring training that included a stint in the A’s minor league spring training mini-camp and his first appearance in a big league spring training game.
Frankoff began the 2014 season with Double-A Midland, and he quickly assumed the closer’s role for the RockHounds. He earned Texas League mid-season All-Star status by saving 15 games in 16 chances and posting a 2.73 ERA in 29.2 pre-All-Star Game innings. Four appearances later, and Frankoff was on his way to Triple-A for the first time in his career.
"He's got a bright future ahead of him. He's just got to put it over the plate and challenge the hitters." - Scott Emerson, A's bullpen coach
The right-hander’s first few weeks in Triple-A were rough. He allowed 12 runs over his first five appearances (6 innings). In those outings, Frankoff was frequently falling behind hitters and having to throw over the heart of the plate. Once he settled down, Frankoff started to get ahead of hitters once again and his numbers improved dramatically. He allowed just three earned runs for the rest of the season (24.2 innings; 1.09 ERA). He struck-out 21 and walked seven over those 24.2 innings.
This off-season, Frankoff spent time in both the Dominican Winter and the Venezuelan Winter Leagues. He allowed two runs in four innings in the DWL and then threw four scoreless regular season innings in the VWL with seven strike-outs.
"He’s got really good stuff," former A’s minor league pitching coordinator and current A’s bullpen coach Scott Emerson said. "His ball moves. He can change speeds. He can cut it. He has a good cut-fastball. He'll show an occasional curveball. He's got a bright future ahead of him. He's just got to put it over the plate and challenge the hitters."
Frankoff has four pitches that he can use at any time in the count –fastball, cutter, change-up and curveball. His fastball is in the 87-91 MPH range, and it sinks. His cutter is a weapon, allowing him to get in on the hands of left-handers while moving away from right-handers. His change-up and breaking ball are also effective pitches. Frankoff is an intelligent pitcher who mixes his offerings well. He isn’t afraid to throw soft early in the count and come back with his harder pitches when he has two strikes.
Frankoff is usually aggressive in the strike-zone, and he learned the hard way early in his time in Triple-A what happens if he tries to nibble around the strike-zone against upper-level hitters. Frankoff repeats his delivery well and has been durable thus far in his career. He is a groundball pitcher who has gotten a lot of strike-outs during his pro career, but could be more of a pitch-to-contact, get-groundballs-early-in-counts pitcher in the big leagues.
Frankoff isn’t currently on the A’s non-roster invitee list for spring training, but that doesn’t mean he’s not on their radar. He is currently attending the annual MLB Rookie Career Development program along with fellow A’s prospect Max Muncy. Those players chosen to attend that program are generally regarded as potential future big leaguers by their major-league organization. Frankoff checks a lot of boxes in terms of what the A’s like to see from their relievers: he throws strikes, changes speeds well, is durable and gets a lot of groundballs.
Frankoff turned 26 last August and will likely start the year back in the A’s Triple-A bullpen. A strong start in 2015 could make him a mid-season option for Oakland should a bullpen spot open up.