ATLANTA — Clint Frazier didn’t think anything could distract him from his anticipation of being a possible top-five pick in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft on Thursday.
That was before John Smoltz managed to surprise the Loganville High School outfielder.
Smoltz, the former Cy Young winner turned broadcaster, visited Frazier Tuesday under the guise of interviewing him for a story to preview the draft. Instead, Smoltz surprised Frazier with the Gatorade national player of the year award.
Smoltz, who always took great delight in pulling off pranks during his two decades with the Braves, was proud to report Frazier was completely caught off guard.
“The look in his eyes was priceless,” Smoltz said.
Frazier (6-1, 190) said the award was a well-timed addition to his resume, only two days before the draft.
“I think it just adds on to the feeling I’m going to go through on Thursday,” Frazier said.
The only problem for Frazier is he doesn’t know what to expect in the draft. He is projected by MLB.com as the No. 7 pick, but baseball drafts are difficult to predict.
“The biggest thing for me is just being anxious as to where I’m going to go,” Frazier said. “I mean, all my friends have college scholarships and they know where they’re going and I don’t know where I’m going. That’s been the hardest thing through the process, not knowing which team is going to pick me.”
Braves director of scouting Tony DeMacio said Frazier has earned his high status in the draft.
“He can do just about everything,” DeMacio said Tuesday. “He runs and he throws and he hits and he hits with power. He’s a great athlete and he has tremendous bat speed. It’s unfortunate we can’t draft him.”
Frazier will be gone long before the Braves’ first pick, No. 31 overall.
“He’s a very complete player and we’re happy for him,” DeMacio said.
Frazier said his pre-draft anxiety has been easier to handle because he has been able to compare notes with another highly regarded Atlanta-area outfielder, Grayson High School’s Austin Meadows. Frazier and Meadows often have been compared in ratings of top high school outfielders in the draft.
“Just having Austin by my side has been really good for me and for him,” Frazier said. “Not that many people get selected in the first round. Just to have someone local I grew up with by my side and see how he’s handling media, handling all the attention, that’s been very good for both of us.”
Frazier hit .485 with 17 homers and 45 RBIs in 2013. As he junior, he hit .424 with 24 homers to lead Loganville to the AAAA state championship.
“I’ve seen highlights and I’ve also heard stories about the strength this guy possesses in centerfield,” Smoltz said. “Somebody is going to get a very determined young man. To hit 63 home runs over four years in high school is pretty impressive.”
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.