Frasor represents Salukis in MLB postseason

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Jason Frasor throws in the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians on Friday, July 25, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals won, 6-4. John Sleezer • Kansas City Star

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Jason Frasor throws in the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians on Friday, July 25, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals won, 6-4. John Sleezer • Kansas City Star

By Aaron Graff

The Kansas City Royals are in the Major League Baseball playoffs for the first time in 29 years, and one former Saluki is along for the ride.

Relief pitcher Jason Frasor attended SIU from 1996 to 1999 before he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 33rd round of the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft. Frasor has played in the major leagues for 11 years and this is his first time in the postseason.

The Royals won the first two games of a best-of-seven American League Championship Series against the Baltimore Orioles. The winner of the ALCS will play in the World Series.

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“It’s a dream come true,” Frasor said. “I never thought I would see this day. We’ve gotten through the wild card, we got through the division series, and right now we’re halfway through the championship series in the American League. This is why we play.”

Frasor said the Orioles are a good team, so the Royals need to win two of the next three home games. If not they will risk their chances in Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

“I don’t think any of us are really thinking about the World Series quite yet,” Frasor said. “At least, we’re not talking about it. But, I mean, we’re not stupid, we know we’re two away. We need two out of three at home.”

Frasor did not start the year with Kansas City. He signed a one-year contract with the Texas Rangers as a free agent before the season. He was traded to the Royals on July 16 for pitcher Spencer Patton, who attended SIU-Edwardville.

“At that time I was trying to figure out why I was traded to the Royals,” Frasor said. “I knew they had a really, really good bullpen, but I guess you can never have too many arms coming down the stretch.”

Frasor said he liked playing for Texas, but he is happier with the Royals in the postseason.

“I really, really enjoyed my time in Texas,” Frasor said. “Now, I’m thrilled that I was traded.”

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The Royals started their playoff journey with a one-and-done situation. Kansas City hosted the Oakland Athletics (88-74) for the American League Wild Card game.

Kansas City trailed 7-3 after six innings, before they rallied to a 9-8 victory in 12 innings. Frasor was the game’s winning pitcher.

“I think around the seventh inning I told myself, ‘Well, looks like I’m going home tomorrow,'” Frasor said. “All of a sudden we cut it to 1, and then we tied it. Then I really had to shift my mindset to ‘I might be going in this game’, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Frasor relieved rookie Brandon Finnegan in the 12th inning with one runner on base. Frasor allowed one hit, which scored the runner, but Kansas City scored two runs in the bottom of the inning for the win.

The Royals swept the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 in the American League Division Series. Frasor pitched 1.1 scoreless innings in that series.

Saluki coach Ken Henderson said Frasor deserves all the success because he is a hard worker and a good person.

“In my opinion, he’s one of the best pitchers we’ve had since I’ve been here,” He said.

Henderson said Frasor was not heavily recruited because of his 5-foot-9 stature. Originally, SIU did not even looking at him. He said Frasor did not cost a lot of scholarship money, so he and former head coach Dan Callahan took a chance on Frasor.

“His high school coach, who just retired, basically just kept calling us and saying ‘Hey, I got this guy I want you to see,'” Henderson said. “We went up to see him throw, he was actually an All-State shortstop, but we went to see him on the mound, and he had a very good breaking pitch.”

Henderson said when Frasor first got to SIU, his fastball was in the mid-80 mph, but within less than a year he was throwing lower to mid-90 mph.

Frasor said he enjoyed his time on campus and was happy to get his degree in public relations. He said he matured at SIU and made lots of friends that he still keeps in touch with. He said he learned about his body, and would not have done as well with baseball if he did not attend SIU.

“I grew up a lot physically, pitching-wise,” Frasor said. “I wasn’t ready to play minor league baseball at that point, nor was I good enough. Those four years at SIU, I credit to learning my body, learning a social life, learning everything.”

Frasor is second in Saluki history with 110 strikeouts and was the “Itchy” Jones MVP in 1997 and co- MVP with Joe Schley in 1999.

Frasor is not the only former Saluki in the Royals organization. Kansas City drafted Todd Eaton in round 34 of the 2014 MLB Draft.

“It’s pretty cool just to know somebody from SIU is still up there and doing well in the major leagues,” Eaton said. “It kind of gives you a little sense that anybody can get up there. It’s about how hard you work at it.”

Frasor is 37-years-old with a contract that expires this season. He said he is focusing on winning the World Series with the Royals and then starting spring training next season with a team.

“You always think a bunch of these teams are going to call and want you, but there’s never as many teams interested as you think,” Frasor said. “But, I just need one. I just need one team to be interested, and I’ll be playing for somebody next year.”

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