#2 - Kevin Frandsen
|Date of Birth: 05/24/1982||Position: 2B||Height: 6'0"||Weight: 175||Bats: R||Throws: R|
Acquired: Drafted in the 12th Round (#370 Overall) in the 2004 Draft
|San Jose - High-A||.429||.556||.429||.985||7||1||3||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|Fresno - Triple-A||.304||.358||.440||.798||293||46||89||25||3||3||30||12||30||7||4|
|San Francisco - MLB||.215||.284||.323||.607||93||12||20||4||0||2||7||3||14||0||1|
Maybe he won't win any league MVP awards in his career. He may not even win a silver slugger or gold glove.
But I bet that before his career is over, he'll have set the record for most McCovey Awards won in a career.
Frandsen does not have 40 home run power. He won't steal 40 bases a season. He does have doubles power and above average speed and defense. He does have fast hands and excellent hand-eye coordination. That said, his best tool is his baseball I.Q.
Intangibles is by definition hard to understand. And what it might be in one player is different from another. But Frandsen has some of the best intangibles around. For one, his love of the game is unparalleled. No matter how many times he's been on the diamond, he seems like he's having as much fun as the first time. He also has baseball smarts. He knows how to play the game, even if sometimes he lets his excitement take control a little too much.
But perhaps the most important thing about him is self-awareness. As he debuted in the majors, Frandsen recognized his weaknesses. The biggest was realizing that his on-base percentage relied too heavily on getting hits and getting hit-by-pitches. His hand-eye coordination allows him to hit pitches that aren't in the zone, but he doesn't always hit them well. Those are the squibbers he's more likely to beat out for singles than to pound for doubles or more.
So Frandsen went to the Arizona Fall League and worked on taking pitches. Now the fear is that when a player goes to the plate with the mindset of taking pitches rather than hitting them, he'll let hittable pitches go by.
So, after averaging just one walk every 17.2 at-bats through his minor league career, Frandsen had an average rate of one every 7 at bats in the AFL. But in addition, he had a batting average of .388 in the league, the second highest in the AFL. He also slugged .588 (3rd highest) after a .453 minor league slugging rate.
Now, that's just a small thing, and Frandsen will have to do a lot more to make the change real. And he will have to do it in the majors. But if it has the same affect on his batting average and slugging, Frandsen will be more than most people seem to think he can be.
As noted, Frandsen doesn't have traditional power. But he has been a solid doubles hitter throughout his short career, and could hit 30-40 a year in the majors. He could be helped in AT&T Park, where the gaps give his balls more room to drop in. And as he'll turn just 25 this season, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that his doubles power could grow into a few more home runs. However, we're still talking about no more than 10-15 in a season.
Frandsen also has a heartwarming story behind him, which you've probably heard ad nauseum, but that can't be discounted as a motivating factor for his play.
The result is a guy who won't be the best player on the team, nor will he ever be recognized as one of the game's greats. He might make an All-Star game with a very good season (a la Rich Aurilia). But he's a player who could very easily bat around .300 for his career, play good defense and have above average speed on the base-paths. And he's got the kind of attitude that will make him one of the most popular players on the team, both in the clubhouse and with fans. In many ways, he already is.
The question for now is, when will he get his chance? The Giants resigned second baseman Ray Durham for two years. Frandsen's range and ability plays best at second base, so for now, Frandsen is unlikely to find a home at second. Frandsen has nothing left to prove in the minors, either.
Frandsen does have some positional versatility. He was a third baseman in college before moving to second his senior year. He was even named by Baseball America as the Best Defensive Third Baseman in the WAC his junior year. But his home won't be there. He doesn't have the ideal arm strength and his reflexes are a touch slow to be there as a major leaguer. He can also play shortstop, but his range is below average there, too.
His versatility might be a boon for him while Durham is at second base. Frandsen is very likely to be the team's utilityman…if Rich Aurilia doesn't take that job, too. Frandsen also worked on taking outfield fly balls to improve his chances of getting playing time, but with a no less than six (and maybe seven) guys who can play outfield on the team, that's unlikely to work out.
It's interesting that Aurilia may end up competing with Frandsen for playing time. Aurilia made his debut in 2005, but spent two seasons apprenticing under other shortstops. Frandsen may undergo the same thing before he gets to be a starter. The good news is after those apprenticeships, Aurilia has been a fixture in the majors, although he's had his ups and downs.
Frandsen may not end up being the high ceiling player people like to see at the tops of lists like these. But Frandsen's total is higher than the sum of his parts. Of any hitter in the Giants system, no position player is a better bet to become a major league regular.
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