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Frazier ready for fresh start in 2011

Reds' Frazier ready for fresh start in 2011

CINCINNATI -- The early-season virus of struggle that seemed to decimate the bats belonging to members of Triple-A Louisville did not elude Reds prospect Todd Frazier.

As the entire team's offense struggled, Frazier's lack of production was particularly noticeable -- he was batting .197 through May -- since he came into the year rated the No. 1 prospect in the organization by Baseball America.

"The first two months was something I had never been through before," Frazier said. "At first, I really didn't know what to do. You get to talking with some people and picking some brains about the situation and how to get through it, and it gets a lot better."

Even before the season started, Frazier had misfortune. During an intraquad spring game, he was drilled square on his right knee by a 95-mph fastball thrown by Cuban lefty Aroldis Chapman. While he would be OK, hopes to make the Major League roster faded when he did not hit well the rest of spring before being cut.

Despite Frazier having finished the end of 2009 in Triple-A, his hitting a wall of sorts at the level one below the Majors isn't an uncommon issue. Two seasons ago, top infield prospect Chris Valaika endured a miserable year, but he responded in 2010 and finished the year in the Majors.

Aided by Louisville manager Rick Sweet and hitting coach Smoky Garrett, Frazier worked his way out of the hole, too. He batted .258 for the season with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs in 130 games.

"I thought he did a great job," said Bill Bavasi, the Reds' vice president of scouting and player development. "The idea of him getting off to a real bad start is not a bad thing for me. I think these guys need to battle adversity in the Minor Leagues. It's a tragedy if the first adversity they ever face is in the big leagues. The idea to get the opportunity to fight through something at the Minor League level is perfect. It's the silver lining."

Life improved for the Louisville club in general, as the Bats moved out of the cellar and went on to win the International League's Western division title.

"They said, 'We know you can hit, just trust yourself,'" Frazier said. "It was a weird first two months. After that, you start telling yourself, 'I can do this.' Ultimately, it's going to happen by being positive.

"In Triple-A, everybody is good. Everybody is trying to get a spot up here. You get to know everybody as the season goes on. You know the pitchers' faults and what they do best. It's a matter of getting to them early and often."

Frazier was a supplemental pick (34th overall) in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Although taken as a shortstop, he has moved all over the field and has played five positions. Last season, he mostly played left field, third base or first base, and that versatility could serve him and the Reds well in the near future.

Added to the Reds' 40-man roster last month, Frazier is hoping to earn a spot on the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. He's been working out for about a month already and plans to head to his agency's baseball training facility in Tampa, Fla., to get ready.

"I'm trying to get ahead of the game," Frazier said. "I want to get a spot out of camp. If I do what I have to do, I think I've got a good shot -- no matter where they want me to play."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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