Trenton Thunder

Caleb Frare had a remarkable 2016 season last year and he's looking to improve on that even further in 2017.

With the likes of Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, Justus Sheffield, Blake Rutherford and a host of others grabbing most of the prospect attention in the Yankees’ loaded farm system, one reliable arm is sneaking under the radar and trying to build on a dominant 2016 season.

Left-hander Caleb Frare was clear about how he can build on a 2016 in which he posted a 0.92 ERA in 49 innings pitched, with 52 strikeouts to 23 walks.

“Command with the fastball, consistency with the slider...continuing to attack hitters, not fall behind them and keep going after them,” he said.

Both Frare and Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell have great confidence in Frare’s repertoire. Frare primarily spoke about his fastball and slider; however his manager believes his best weapon, especially against lefties, is his changeup.

“He’s got the stuff to get out both lefties and righties, and with that big changeup he’s got, he can be pretty dominant,” Mitchell said. “It sure is nice to have a lefty throw the way he does.”

Frare, who already has seven strikeouts in his first three appearances this season for Double-A Trenton, is definitely more than your lefty specialist. In 2016, Frare held right-handed batters to just a .215 batting average, as well as a measly .152 batting average against left-handed hitters.

Another thing managers will like is when Frare comes in with men on base there is a good chance those runners end up stranded. In 2016, Frare stranded 82 percent of baserunners he inherited.

Frare’s career began when he was drafted by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft (367th overall) out of Custer County High School in Miles City, Montana. He’s just the second player to ever be selected out of Miles City, with the other being Curt Schmidt, who was first drafted by the Phillies in the 1991 Amatuer Draft.

His professional career was off to a good start with a successful 2012 season in the Gulf Coast League, going 2-1, with a 2.74 ERA, striking out 23 in as many innings, and only walking seven. However, his season was cut short after an injury to his elbow forced him to undergo Tommy John Surgery, which pushed him out of the entire 2013 season.

Frare then planned to return strong and healthy for 2014.  However, a car accident at the team’s facility, followed by a torn quadriceps kept him out of a second straight season.

Frare returned to the mound healthy in 2015 as a reliever and went 6-3, with a 2.91 ERA. He tossed 55.2 innings, striking out 58 batters and walking 22. He even earned three saves in five opportunities between the Florida State League(A), and the South Atlantic League (A+).

Then it all seemed to come together in 2016. Frare pitched to a sub-1.00 ERA and reached more than 50 innings pitched in the second straight season.

Perhaps most impressive out of all of his numbers from his tremendous year was zero long flies. Frare did not allow a single home run to the 200 batters he faced last year. Yet another sign that has the arrow pointing up in favor of Caleb Frare.

“I think that was just by the grace of God that I didn’t give up a home run.” said Frare. “You go through stretches where you can’t get anybody out, then there are stretches where you can get anybody out.”

In 2017, Frare is going to have to show some true dependability and versatility out of the bullpen, as he is currently the only left-hander coming out of the bullpen for the Thunder. Manager Bobby Mitchell said he will get a chance to be used as a lefty specialist throughout the year, but will primarily will be used as a middle reliever, where Mitchell believes he is best suited.

“He’ll be in the middle. But, if we have the chance to bring him in against lefties, where he gets that experience, I think it’s even better,” said the Thunder’s manager. “But he has the stuff to get out righties too, so we definitely expect big things from him.”

Trying to come back even better for this season, Frare followed a new offseason program, which included a lot more running to help with his conditioning.

“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my career, and that’s going to help me alot,” Frare noted.

Frare certainly enjoys being called out of the bullpen. However, in terms of his role, Frare just wants to show that he will do anything to help the Thunder succeed and win ball games.

“The bullpen is where I want to live,” Frare said. “I’m here for my team. Whatever they need. They need a guy that can only get lefties out, I’m that guy. They need a guy that can eat three innings, I’m that guy too,” he concluded.

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