Every baseball team has role players; guys who can come in and fill numerous roles adequately. Outfielder Chaz Frank definitely prides himself on being just that kind of guy. While mastering the lost arts of bunting for base hits and being an effective base runner, the young outfielder was one of the Lansing Lugnuts’ most exciting players to watch last season.
Joining the team in mid-May out of extended spring training, Frank was excited to be a member of the Blue Jays full season low-A affiliate, which was a promotion for the North Carolina native who spent his 2013 season in the Northwest League with the Vancouver Canadians. Getting the news of his promotion on Mother’s Day, the young prospect was excited to call his mother and share the good news.
“I was excited when they told me I was coming to Lansing,” said Frank. “Before I got the call I was in extended spring training working really hard to get to this level. I was excited to join a team where it counts and where you’re putting on a real uniform helping a team get some wins. The call actually happened on Mother’s Day, so I was able to call my Mom and tell her I was being promoted up. It was a big day for me.”
Showing great speed in the outfield and on the base paths right out of the gates in Lansing, Frank bunted for three base hits in his first week in the Midwest League. The 24-year old outfielder likes to use speed to his advantage since he has limited power in his bat. In fact, Frank went 17-for-24 in stolen base attempts, while picking up seven extra base hits, which included: four doubles and three triples.
“I feel I got a better idea how to steal a base this season. I feel I’m better at knowing when to go and when not to go,” explained Frank. “I feel I was always a decent base runner and I worked hard on it last off-season and I have been pleased with the results.”
“I take pride in bunting for hits. It something I need to be good at to advance to each level because I’m not a power guy,” he added. “I’m not a guy who’s going to hit a lot of home runs or drive in a lot of runs. Stealing bases, playing good defense, and being a good clubhouse guy is my game. I feel bunting for a base hit is something I need to be good at and I’ve got better at it last season. I only had two or three in Vancouver and I had three in my first week in Lansing last year.”
Patience at the plate is another area in which Frank excels, as he continuously grinds out long at-bats and draws a lot of walks. Collecting 39 free passes in 307 plate appearances, Frank was consistently in good position to score runs for his club.
Priding himself on excellent defense, Frank feels his outfield play would remind fans of former big leaguer Andruw Jones. Committing just five errors on his season, Frank maintained a respectable .959 fielding percentage between the three outfield positions.
“I pride myself on my defense,” said Frank. “Growing up I was a big Atlanta Braves fan and I admired the way Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones played the game. I really liked the way Andruw Jones controlled the outfield. I’m the same way. I’m always trying to take control out there.”
Impressed with the play of Chaz Frank all season, 2014 Lansing Lugnuts’ hitting coach Ken Huckaby discusses what he liked about working with the young outfielder who had a .348 OBP while working with him last season.
“Chaz Frank has done a great job all season. He brings a lot of life and energy to our team,” stated Huckaby. “Chaz swung the bat well all year. He does a nice job on the base paths. He’s a smart baseball player and an intelligent person. He has done a great job all year.”
Since joining professional baseball, Frank has made a great bond with Blue Jays Roving Outfield/Base Running Instructor Tim Raines. Since base running is a major part of Frank’s game he feels it’s very important to utilize Raines knowledge and skills.
“Rock is my guy. He understands what I’m trying to do from a players standpoint and I’ve had a lot of questions for him because he’s one of the best all-time,” stated Frank. “You’re not going to find many guys better than Raines at base running. He’s been a big help for me.”
Frank is currently in Dunedin competing for a promotion to high-A baseball this April. Completely focused on moving up a level throughout the winter, Frank completed a busy off-season routine to try and make this transition a reality.
“In the off-season I spend a little time catching up with family and friends before jumping back into my baseball training,” explained Frank. “In the off-season I follow the workout manual given to us by the Blue Jays. The manual features exercises and drills designed to keep you on top of your game.”
Watch for Chaz Frank as he continues to be an excellent role player for one of the Blue Jays minor league affiliates in 2015.