The latest C’s Chat is with 2022 Vancouver Canadians pitcher Nick Frasso.
The 23 year-old from Torrance, California was supposed to make a start on Tuesday, August 2 against the Tri-City Dust Devils at Nat Bailey Stadium. However, instead of climbing the hill for the C’s, Frasso was packing his bags as he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers by the Toronto Blue Jays in a deal that saw Frasso and pitcher Moises Brito head to the Golden State for pitcher Mitch White and current Vancouver Canadians infielder Alex De Jesus.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Frasso was a two-sport athlete at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rancho Palos Verdes, California where he excelled in baseball and basketball and racked up numerous awards in 2017. Under coach and former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brian Bowles, Frasso threw a no-hitter against Palos Verdes High School to win the Bay League title and was the Bay League Most Outstanding Player in basketball.
From there, Frasso remained in his home state to pitch for Loyola Marymount and was an Honorable Mention All-WCC and WCC All-Freshman selection in 2018 after posting a 4-4 record with a 3.15 earned run average. He struck out 74 batters and walked 17 over 60 innings as he split his 16 appearances between starting and relieving.
After earning one save in his freshman season, Frasso spent more time in the Lions bullpen as he converted 10 saves with a 2-2 record and a 2.22 ERA in 2019. Save number 10 came against number-one ranked UCLA when he tossed two hitless innings against the Bruins in the Los Angeles Regional. He posted a similar K-BB total of 73-17 in 56-2/3 innings to help Loyola Marymount win the West Coast Conference Tournament.
The 2019 campaign also saw Frasso make a couple of appearances with the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod League where he pitched two perfect frames and earned a win. He also pitched for the U.S. Collegiate National Team and pitched four scoreless frames to pick up a win over Cuba.
Frasso struck out 11 batters in 8-2/3 third innings in 2020 at Loyola Marymount before COVID cancelled the season. \Baseball America ranked him 107th overall for the five-round draft.
“Frasso impressed with four scoreless innings in his lone start for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team last summer. He entered this spring considered a potential first-round pick, but he failed to get through five innings in either of his first two starts before being shut down with forearm tightness. Frasso is one of the most athletic pitchers in the 2020 draft class. He was a high school basketball standout capable of throwing down emphatic dunks, and he still has a basketball build at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds with room to fill out. Frasso still has a relatively fresh arm due to his two-sport background. His 92-95 mph fastball plays up with both a high spin rate and plus extension, and his high-spin slider gives him a second potential plus offering, although it is inconsistent. His changeup is rudimentary but flashes average potential. Frasso locates his fastball to both sides of the plate and fills up the strike zone. He projects as a plus strike thrower overall. Frasso checks a lot of analytical boxes with his spin rates and extension, while traditional scouts love his athleticism and projection. He is in second-to-third-round consideration on talent, but concerns about the health of his arm may drop him lower.”
Baseball America was just one pick late as the Toronto Blue Jays drafted Frasso with the 106th pick overall and gave him a $459,000 signing bonus.
Frasso’s first stint in professional ball in 2021 was not a long one. His pro debut saw him spin two scoreless and hitless frames in Clearwater May 20 in which he struck out two batters. The righthander only made two more appearances, including a one-inning outing in which he struck out two without allowing a run against Bradenton June 3. He was placed on the injured list the following day and missed the rest of the season to repair the ulnar colateral ligament of his right elbow.
The surgery was a success as Frasso began 2022 with a vengeance. He posted a 0.70 ERA and struck out 42 batters against eight walks in 25-2/3 innings with Dunedin. In his first start with the D-Jays, he struck out eight over three shutout innings of one-hit against Tampa May 14, striking out Yankees top prospect Jasson Dominguez with triple-digit heat. That was among the 24 strikeouts compiled by the Dunedin pitch staff that night, six of them by 2022 C’s lefthander and current New Hampshire Fisher Cat Braden Scott.
On June 28, Frasso got the call to Vancouver and was slated to make his C’s debut against Spokane July 2 but the game was rained out. Instead, he pitched in Everett on July 4 and put on a show by striking out 10 batters in four shutout innings to earn Northwest League Pitcher of the Week honours. In his home debut July 12, Frasso allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings with just one strikeout against Hillsboro. His next outing with the C’s came at home against Everett July 28 as he completed four scoreless innings with four strikeouts and retired the last 11 hitters he faced.
In his debut with the Dodgers organization, Frasso put together three shutout frames for the High-A Great Lakes Loons against Peoria, scattering three hits and striking out four August 10.
C’s Plus Baseball chatted with Frasso during the team’s series against Everett in the last week of July, two days after what turned out to be his final appearance in the Toronto organization. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
C’s Plus Baseball – The 2022 MLB draft was held recently. That must bring back a lot of memories for you when you got drafted two years ago. What was that draft day experience like for you?
Nick Frasso – Yeah, that was an awesome day overall. I had some friends and family over and just like anticipating that moment. And when it happened, it was awesome because all my people that I’m closest to were all there to support me. It was a great day.
CPB – Did you have any idea it was going to be the Blue Jays who would take you?
NF – Not really. At the start of the draft, obviously I knew they had some interest but at that point, you never really know. I’m happy I’m here though.
CPB – Was it nerve-wracking for you considering that year’s draft was only five rounds? Was that something you were overly concerned about?
NF – I mean, a little bit, obviously, It was cut down so much from like 40 rounds at the time then I think they said it was gonna be like 20 or 10 at one point. And then finally got cut down to five. So obviously not a ton of picks in that slot, but I was hoping I could still go somewhere in those rounds.
CPB – Basketball. I think the one thing everybody knew about you basically when you were drafted, it went viral, was that dunk you made. Obviously you’re very accomplished in basketball. Talk about your basketball career and why you decided to go on the diamond instead of the hardwood.
NF – I love basketball. I grew up playing my whole life, in high school, all that. So fun. Still enjoy watching to this day. Maybe I go in the front yard, put a few shots up still but my basketball career was good. (It was) basketball, baseball kind of my whole life and then kind of get into college time and I saw more opportunity in baseball in the future, probably a little better in baseball as well. So I just went that route and enjoyed it.
CPB – What’s it like to dunk a basketball?
NF – It’s cool. I mean, yeah, the first one, especially like growing up, it’s like, cool. It’s kind of like a mark in your life. It’s a cool thing to do. I mean, I guess it helps for me having my lanky arms and stuff makes it probably a little easier, but yeah, definitely fun.
CPB – Did you ever take part in any dunk competitions or anything like that?
NF – None officially. Only with my brothers out in the front yard. But no official dunk contest.
CPB – Did you have a favourite NBA team or a player?
NF – I grew up in the LA area my whole life. I grew up a Lakers fan and obviously grew up watching Kobe (Kobe Bryant) and Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) and probably Kobe growing up was kind of the one guy. Obviously he was the man at the time when I was a young kid in my teenage years, he was always the man. So I always kind of looked up to him and he is probably my favorite player through those years for sure.
CPB – DId you have a favourite major league team growing up or a favourite pitcher?
NF – Being from LA, I grew up kind of a Dodgers fan. I don’t know. I never had really like one favorite pitcher to watch. Anyone who threw hard, I was always intrigued.
CPB – How did you get started in baseball?
NF – I couldn’t even tell you like the exact (moment), probably like four or five years old up in tee-ball whatever. My Dad played his whole life, played at the college level, so he kind of just threw me in there. I don’t even know if I probably didn’t have a choice. He was going to throw me in regardless, but yeah, a young age for sure.
CPB – When did you take up pitching?
NF – I kind of always pitched my whole life. Honestly, (my Dad) was a pitcher too, so he probably wanted to see me (on the mound). I hit for most of my life up until high school. Obviously I hit through high school, but it was always kind of I was always a little better at pitching probably so I obviously went that route.
CPB – Brian Bowles, a former Toronto Blue Jay. He was your coach in high school. How influential was he in your baseball career?
NF – Yeah, he was big for sure. He’d been at the high level. He played in the major leagues obviously. To have that in high school when you’re so young and still learning so much, that was great because he kind of taught me everything that I kind of learned like in college and kind of like here, even like in high school. And kind of just to have that guidance from someone who’s been there at such a young age was very helpful and still keep in touch to this day. Yeah, he’s always there to help.
CPB – I know you got lots of advice but was there maybe one piece of advice that really stuck with you from Brian Bowles or from anyone as far as playing the game?
NF – In high school, I was always on the fence, like if I’m going to play basketball or baseball, and he played basketball and baseball as well, kind of the same path to me and he kept telling me, he’s like, ‘You got to play baseball, man. You gotta play baseball.’ And (I’m like) ‘I don’t know. I kind of like basketball.’ And he is like, ‘Nah, you got to play baseball.’
CPB – How did you wind up at Loyola Marymount?
NF – Coming out of high school, I didn’t have like a ton of options. I guess I was kind of a late bloomer late in my senior year. I started to get some recognition from colleges and had a few options to go here or there but not really a ton. I kind of had a little bit of slim picking but I went to the campus, absolutely beautiful school, right near the beach, the baseball program coming off a great year. I really enjoyed the coaches and it just seemed like a good fit for me.
CPB – 2020 was a crazy year with COVID and the season was cut short. How did you make it through COVID?
NF – My time obviously through COVID I guess was just basically at home with the family back home in California. I didn’t do much, but it was cool to spend that time with the family, I guess. Obviously going through college and stuff, you’re kind of away traveling a lot with baseball, but it wasn’t the best time for anyone. But just to be able to be at home with my family every day, it was kind of like growing up again. It was kind of cool.
CPB – Was it just a matter of staying motivated to work out and get into a routine, just trying not to go stir crazy?
NF – Yeah, exactly. The front yard became the new weight room for us. We had to get some, whatever scrap, some dumbbells and bars or whatever together, me and my brothers and just literally in the front yard just kind of set it up and we work out. But yeah, it was tough at first but after a while, I kind of figured out some of my buddies had some garage gyms so that came in clutch.
CPB – Growing up, what would you say was your best baseball memory or best game?
NF – Way back? Literally I had two home runs and had a no-hitter in a game. So that’s probably my best statistically career game ever but I mean there’s a lot of good games, obviously in high school and college that I really enjoyed and still do to this day.
CPB – In 2021, you get on the mound professionally. Unfortunately it didn’t last too long with an elbow injury. I know I had to do with the UCL, I know Tommy John surgery wasn’t involved but what exactly did you go through to help you get a little bit ready sooner as compared to Tommy John?
NF – Basically I just got like a variation of Tommy John. Instead of the full repair, I mean (instead of) the full reconstruction, I just got the repair. So a little bit of shorter recovery time than Tommy John. Basically kind of just go in there, brace up the ligament, reattach everything and obviously kind of did the same similar rehab to TJ, just a little bit shorter. The Blue Jays staff obviously helped me get here and helped me get healthy and I’m happy to be healthy again.
CPB – I’m sure you got a lot of advice about how to deal with your surgery. What advice that you were given?
NF – It’s a grind obviously. Once you come out of surgery, you can’t really do anything for a while. You can barely move your arms. You’re going to go into rehab every day. You’re going do the same exercises every day for months and it gets a little repetitive. It gets a little frustrating. Because you’re seeing all your friends, like your draft mates, everyone playing, doing well, having fun out there and you’re in a training room every day, you know? So I mean, that’s probably the toughest part is just to like stay with it and just trust the process and make sure you do all your arm care and do everything that’s going to get you right. So when you are healthy, you can perform to the best of your ability, but yeah, (it’s a) grind for sure.
CPB – You finally get on the mound in 2022 with the Dunedin Blue Jays and you’re a part of that 24 strikeout game and you had eight of them. What was that like pitching that night?
NF – Yeah, that was awesome. Obviously the first game back, like real game back with an affiliate. Obviously I had a lot of jitters, some adrenaline pumping. Just super excited to get back out there. It was just a great time to just go out there and just everything feels good. Just having fun, enjoying it. It was an awesome experience.
CPB – When did you finally feel comfortable that ‘You know what? I’m a hundred percent or as close to a hundred percent as it’s going to be you were ready’. When was that point for you to say, ‘Yep, I’m back’?
NF – It kind of comes and like still this day, like you have like days where you were feeling like really good, days were you’re maybe like ‘not quite’. Ever since I’ve kind of been (back in affiliated ball), I felt pretty comfortable and my arm has felt good and I’ve been happy about it the way I’ve been feeling. So kind of just once I got to probably Dunedin, I started to feel pretty good.
CPB – Talk about the pitches you throw currently.
NF – Right now, I’ve just throw a normal, four-seam fastball, slider and changeup.
CPB – Anyone who taught you the slider or showed you a grip?
NF – I mean, it’s just kind of a grip I kind of developed on my own, but obviously the pitching coaches, the rehab, the pitching coaches here and Dunedin, they all kind of see what I’m doing, obviously on TrackMan and kind of help just like with different grips and the way I’m throwing in stuff like that.
CPB – Do you feel that’s your best off speed pitch right now?
NF – Yeah, I mean, I think it’s good. I’m starting to get a pretty good feel for the changeup as well. So who knows? Maybe the changeup will overtake it soon but yeah, I like both.
CPB – Is it a circle changeup or a split changeup?
NF – Yeah. It’s like a circle change.
CPB – Your fastball. I know the velocity has really come about, hitting (100 miles per hour). Was that the fastest you’ve thrown?
NF – Yeah. That was the fastest ever. I never hit 100 before that game so that was pretty cool to obviously see. And that’s like a little bit of a reassurance to like your arm is good, you know? So to be able to see, that’s definitely a good feeling.
CPB – You get the promotion to Vancouver. How did you find out about it?
NF – I finished my outing in Dunedin on a Sunday and they told me that the head coach Donnie Murphy wanted to see me because I like did something, I’m like in trouble or whatever. I just went in there and he just broke the news. ‘You’re going up. Congratulations!’ Yeah, it was cool. Definitely cool.
CPB – Is this first time you’ve been in Canada?
NF – Yeah. First time ever.
CPB – What are your impressions so far of Vancouver?
NF – Awesome. I mean, yeah. Look at this right now. I say it’s beautiful, so nice. I like the weather and got out of the humidity of Florida a little bit. Just overall, it’s so nice here. I like it a lot.
CPB – You were scheduled to pitch (at Nat Bailey Stadium) on the Sunday, which was rained out against Spokane. Instead, your first start gets pushed back to Everett. How did you prepare for that knowing that you were ready to go Sunday and then you get pushed back to Tuesday? Obviously it didn’t really affect your preparation much, did it?
NF – Yeah. I mean, obviously I was excited at first. It was going to be my first game here at the Nat and obviously was very excited for that. It got rained out, (I was) a little bit bummed but they told me I was going the next day. Obviously on the 4th of July I had to just lock it in. There’s not really much I could have done differently. I just had to get ready to pitch the next day.
CPB – It was the 4th of July, the fireworks, you supplied a lot of them with 10 strikeouts that night. What was going well for you that night?
NF – Probably the fastball, honestly. I was just kind of able to throw my fastball and it was feeling good. It felt like it was coming out pretty good. And I was getting a lot of swing and misses on it. So I was just kind of playing off my fastball that whole game pretty much.
CPB – And I don’t think you really gave up really much contact if any, I think maybe a popup or two and that was it. Yoy must have felt really dominant that day.
NF – Yeah, it definitely felt good. So when I was able to pound the zone, obviously throw a lot of strikes that game and yeah, it just obviously felt good. I felt pretty on.
CPB – Do you pay attention to the radar gun during a game?
NF – Every once in a while. I’m not going to lie. I’ll take a quick peek every once in a while just to check in, but yeah, I guess.
CPB – We did see double zeros (on the radar gun) once for your first home start. What was it like making your first home start here at the Nat?
NF – Very cool. Obviously the environment, every game here is electric. It’s very, very fun. Obviously a lot of fans that care about the game. They’re locked in and it’s a great environment to play in.
CPB – Before that you were the reigning Northwest League Pitcher of the Week. How did you find out about it?
NF – I didn’t even know about it. I think the team page posted it or something like that. I didn’t even see it. My Dad sent it to me or something and said ‘Congrats!’ But yeah, that was pretty cool.
CPB – Is there anything people should know about you that maybe they don’t?
NF – Oh, I don’t know. I mean I’m from California. I like to surf. I mean, that’s probably something it’s kind of weird. I’m tall, skinny, don’t really fit the stereotype but I’ve kind of surfed my whole life. I love to surf all the time.
CPB – What is it that you like to do when you when you’re away from the ballpark? How do you unwind?
NF – During the season obviously, a lot of it is kind of relaxing, but since I’ve come to Vancouver. I just like want to explore. I’ve been to downtown like once or twice and kind of want to get around more, go to the beaches around here, go to the beach, hang with friends. Just stuff like that.
CPB – Final question. What are your goals for 2022?
NF – Just to finish the year strong. Coming up from the arm injury, just finish healthy, finish strong, finish feeling good and just be able to keep putting together consistent starts.
- Uniform Numbers – Wore numbers 26 and 25 with Loyola Marymount and number 28 with Dunedin in 2021. Wore number 47 with Dunedin in 2022 and now wearing 43 with Great Lakes.
- Twitter – @nickfrasso
- Instagram – @n_frasso
- Like Father, Like Son – Father Vincent pitched at El Camino Junior College and Long Beach State
Thanks a million to Nick Frasso for the latest C’s Chat and I wish him the very best with the Dodgers organization. And thanks as always to C’s broadcaster Tyler Zickel for setting it all up.