Back in 1998, a kid by the name of Todd Frazier led Toms River, N.J., to an improbable Little League World Series championship over Japan. Frazier won on the mound, as the winning pitcher, and at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a leadoff home run. Fast-forward 14 years to last season, and Frazier got his first shot at the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds. Again, he seized the moment, with 115 hits, 55 runs and 67 RBIs in 128 games. This season, Frazier has taken over the hot corner and picked up right where he left off: 12 hits in his first 29 at-bats, and a 4-for-5 game with two home runs and four RBIs on Friday. We sat down with the Reds' rising star to hear more about his exciting journey.
Let’s go back to that LLWS.
For three years leading up to it, I just wanted to get there. Once we did, I was like, “All right, we made it.” So when we got to that final game, I really didn’t know what to think. It was just crazy: the crowd, the aura, the atmosphere. There were 44,000 people there, and it was just a bunch of 12-year-olds having fun playing the game they loved. Looking back on it, it’s unbelievable.
Your older brother Jeff also went to the LLWS. Are you guys close?
Definitely. I have two older brothers, and we’re all very close. They understand how hard it is, and they know when to get on me and when to back off. I think I need that. I think everybody needs that. Not to mention, I have Jeff to thank because I never would’ve even thought about going to the LLWS if he didn’t go.
Then you made it from the LLWS to the big leagues. What was it like getting called up?
My goal last offseason was to make the team. I would talk about it every day: “I’m not missing this opportunity. I’m going to make this squad. This is my time.” And I would’ve, but an hour before they set the final roster, the Reds picked up a pitcher and I got sent down. Still, because of the spring I had, I knew I’d eventually get the opportunity.
You filled in a lot for Joey Votto. Big shoes. Did you feel a lot of pressure?
Not at all. I wasn’t trying to be like him. I was trying to just be me. If I work within myself and what I can do, I’ll be the best player I can be. And I had the chance to talk to Votto a lot, about the little things that make you a better ballplayer.
Pretty cool that you’re now playing across the diamond from him. Do you think you’ll stay at third?
I’d like to, but you never know what can happen. So I have to work hard, I have to work on my craft. I’ll be a utility guy if needed, but I want to settle down. I want everybody to say, “He’s the third baseman of the Cincinnati Reds.” For a long time.
You guys are off to a hot start. How’s the clubhouse atmosphere?
We're excited. Everybody understands that last year is not where we want to be. That wasn’t the outcome we wanted. But we have everybody healthy now, so we’re really excited to see what we can do.
Time for some off-the-field stuff. What do you miss most about New Jersey?
That’s the easiest question in the world: the food. The Italian food there is unbelievable. Everywhere I go, I look for good Italian food and sandwiches, and the bread is just not the same. It’s not the East Coast bread.
What is your favorite baseball movie?
Oh, man. I like them all. But I’d have to say "The Sandlot."
What was the most random job you ever had?
I worked in the bakery at a Shop-Rite for a year. I did the doughnuts and cupcakes, and I helped write on cakes.
What is something about you most people wouldn’t know?
I was in choir for two years in middle school. I actually really enjoyed it. I mean, everyone thinks they can sing when they’re singing with 30 people, but I like to think I have a little soul in my voice.
What would your teammates say about that?
They already know. I sing to them a lot.