LLWS Legend Seems Destined For Big Things

The Cincinnati Reds used their second pick in the first round, 34th overall, of the '07 draft to select former Little League hero Todd Frazier, as he became the third member of his family to be drafted. In combined stints between rookie-level Billings and Class-A Dayton in his debut professional season, he then posted solid numbers (.319, .405, .538) in 47 games.

Back in 1998, at the height of the New York Yankees' dynasty, another baseball team with east coast roots caught the attention of the nation.

Dubbed the "Beast of the East," a special group of 11- and 12-year-old kids from Toms River, New Jersey won over the hearts of many, rolling through the Little League World Series with ease on the way to an unexpected championship. In large part due to the hitting exploits of their flamboyant 12-year-old shortstop, still remembered for tilting his cap like golfer Jesper Parnevik, the Toms River East American All-Stars defied the odds, picking up five consecutive victories in the tournament, including a thrilling 12-9 victory in the finals against a talented team from Japan.

Todd Frazier (AP)

Around ten years later, that same 5-foot-4 Little League hero, who recorded the final out of Toms River's series-clinching victory on the mound while finishing the day 4-for-4 with a home run, is on his way to becoming one of many other former Little League legends—Lastings Milledge, Gary Sheffield and Jason Varitek, among others—to make his mark on Major League Baseball. The player, of course, is Todd Frazier, who permanently sketched his name in the Williamsport record books back in '98 after batting .600 with four home runs in the series.

As bases expand, often times, the opportunity is there for that pesky little 70-pound (soaking wet) second baseman to catch up, talent wise, with the town's Little League home run king—you know, the token 12-year-old with facial hair—and memories of pitching dominance quickly become a thing of the past for some Williamsport stars. Unlike many young players who shine when the fences stand only 200 feet away from home plate, though, Frazier only became a stronger player with age, and it looks as if his best baseball still lies ahead of him.

Following an All-State prep career, in both baseball and basketball, at Toms River South High School, Frazier opted to stay in New Jersey for college, signing a letter of intent with nearby Rutgers University. Shortly into his collegiate career, he then quickly emerged as one of the top players in the Big East Conference, setting numerous school records—including all-time home runs (42) and runs scored (210)— in an excellent three-year stint with the Scarlet Knights. He enjoyed the best campaign of his Rutgers career as a junior in '07, batting .372 with a staggering .502 on-base percentage and a .757 slugging percentage while setting a single-season school record with 22 home runs and 87 runs scored. For his efforts, he was an easy selection as the Big East Player of the Year.

Ranked as one of the top infielders entering June's draft, the Cincinnati Reds used their second pick in the first round, 34th overall, to select Frazier, as he became the third member of his family to be drafted. In combined stints between rookie-level Billings and Class-A Dayton in his debut professional season, he then posted solid numbers (.319, .405, .538) in 47 games, hitting five home runs in 160 at-bats in the Pioneer League. After such a strong showing at the end of the summer, he quickly established himself as one of the Reds' ten best overall prospects, according to numerous publications, including Scout.com.

Frazier, 21, has the prototypical body for a big-league player, standing 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. And while he has the hands and arm strength to stay at shortstop, his size inhibits his range, making him more of a candidate to play third base at the higher levels, although he remained at shortstop during his first year as a pro. He is also an average runner who stole more than his fair share of bases in college.

Clearly, his best tool is his bat, perhaps his ticket to future success, as he possesses a smooth right-handed swing with gap-to-gap power. He will have to hit, and well, in the minors, though, to justify playing a corner infield position, or perhaps right field, too, as he rises through the Reds' farm system.

He is still several years away from making his debut in Great American Ballpark, of course, and is expected begin the 2008 season with Class-A Sarasota of the Florida State League. As many starting pitchers in the Big East, around 18 current college-aged students in Japan, and every contestant in the 1997 Punt, Pass and Kick competition can testify, however: Todd Frazier is not someone who you want to bet against.

One thing is for sure: Frazier definitely has a stronger chance of joining the following list than perhaps the most infamous alumnus of the Little League World Series, Danny Almonte.

Little League World Series Alumni Who Have Reached The Majors

Wilson Alvarez (1982)

Jim Barbieri (1954)

Jason Bay (1990)

Derek Bell (1980, 1981)

Larvell Blanks (1962)

Sean Burroughs (1992, 1993)

Bill Connors (1954)

Chin-Feng Chen (1990)

Charlie Hayes (1977)

Ken Hubbs (1954)

Keith Lampard (1958)

Adam Loewen (1996)

Vance Lovelace (1975)

Jason Marquis (1991)

Lastings Milledge (1997)

Bobby Mitchell (1967)

Jim Pankovitz (1968)

Yusmeiro Petit (1994)

Marc Pisciotta (1983)

Boog Powell (1954)

Guillermo Quiroz (1994)

Gary Sheffield (1980)

Carl Taylor (1954)

Hector Torres (1958)

Jason Varitek (1984)

Dave Veres (1978)

Ed Vosberg (1973)

Dan Wilson (1981)

Rick Wise (1958)

Source: CBS Sportsline

You can contact Tyler Hissey by sending an email to TylerHissey@gmail.com.


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