It’s often believed that the analytics and scouting departments in any given organization are always at odds with each other, and it is true that the approaches will favor different types of players at times. Then there are instances when the two come together in harmony. Such is the case with Fraley, who parlayed a strong career at LSU into being the Rays’ pick in the Competitive Balance Round B of the 2016 Draft. He had trouble staying healthy in 2017 and '18, but the Mariners had seen enough meshing of the analytic data with his tools and athleticism to have him included in the Mike Zunino deal after the 2018 season. Staying relatively healthy in 2019, he showed what he’s capable of, nearly turning in a 20-20 season and making his big league debut.
Even though he’s missed a lot of reps with injuries, Fraley has always been able to hit, but there was some question about his ability to drive the ball. There are no concerns about that now as he’s gotten much more physical and impacts the ball on a consistent basis. He sold out more for power in 2019 and got the ball in the air more, more than doubling his career home run output, but without sacrificing his hit tool. He also got back to using his speed on the basepaths, topping 20 steals for the first time since his pro debut.
That speed allows him to cover more than enough ground to be an outstanding center fielder and he’s shown he’s more than capable of handling the corners, albeit with a below-average arm. He could play all three spots for the time being, but has more than enough ability to be an everyday guy in a big league lineup.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 65 | Arm: 40 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50
After three productive years at LSU, where he looked very much like a future center fielder and leadoff type hitter, Fraley was a Competitive Balance Round B pick of the Rays in 2016. As good as he was in college, he was tough to see as a pro, missing nearly all of the 2017 season and half of 2018 with injuries, though he did make up for some lost time with a dominant turn in the Australian Baseball League after the '17 season. The Mariners, who loved his speed and defense in LSU, loved what they did see when he was on the field and were sure to get him as part of the deal that sent Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay this past offseason.
One question facing Fraley when he entered pro ball was whether he would be physical enough at the plate. While he only got 225 at-bats in 2018, he showed the ability to drive the ball with extra-base authority, especially to his pull side. His legs and his glove are still his carrying tools and he has more than enough ability to stick in center field long term, albeit with a below-average arm. He has basestealing ability as well and should get back to wreaking more havoc when 100 percent healthy.
Controlling the strike zone and getting on base are still the keys for Fraley to profile as a top-of-the-order catalyst. If he can continue to impact the ball like he has at times, there's still time for him to develop into a big league regular.
Scouting grades:</b> Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 70 | Arm: 40 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
The Rays drafted Fraley 77th overall in Lottery Round B last June after he had batted .324/.407/.459 as a junior for Louisiana State while ranking among the SEC leaders in steals, runs, hit and triples. He signed for $797,500 and spent his entire pro debut at Class A Short Season Hudson Valley, where he posted a .703 OPS and stole 33 bases to pace the New York-Penn League.
Fraley is well suited to bat atop a lineup, as he has a patient, contact-oriented approach and good feel for using the entire field. His flat left-handed swing offers little in the way of over-the-fence power, but he does have a knack for pounding the gaps and accrues plenty of doubles and triples. Meanwhile, Fraley's well-above-average speed is his best tool, and he knows how to apply it on the basepaths and in center field.
The presence of 2015 second-rounder Andrew Stevenson kept Fraley from manning center field until his junior year, but he possesses the speed and instincts to at least be a solid defender there, where his below-average arm strength is a clean fit.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 60 | Arm: 40 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Louisiana State has had five outfielders selected in the top three rounds of the past six Drafts, and Fraley should go in the same territory in June. A semi-regular as a freshman and a left fielder in deference to gifted defender Andrew Stevenson on the Tigers' 2015 College World Series team, he's the center fielder and offensive catalyst on their '16 squad.
Fraley is well suited to bat atop a lineup, as he has a patient contact-oriented approach and the plus speed and know-how to steal bases. His flat left-handed swing doesn't yield much power, but his on-base skills rank among the best in college baseball. Fraley has performed well during two summers in the Cape Cod League.
Though he hadn't played much center field for LSU before this spring, Fraley's speed and instincts make him at least a solid defender there. His arm strength is below average, but it isn't considered a liability.