Frenzel continues to grow in Savannah
As long as Cole Frenzel is in the lineup, he doesn't care where he plays.
He just wants to help his team win.
Frenzel has been shifted around the diamond and, in turn, the New York Mets' Class A affiliate Savannah Sand Gnats are consistently winning games.
"If you asked any player who is developing and trying to make his paths to the big leagues, they don't care where they play," said Frenzel, who was a seventh-round pick of the Mets in the 2011 draft. "They just want to be in the lineup and help the team any way they can. I don't care if I'm playing third base, first base or in the outfield. Wherever I can play to help the team and do my job, that's what I'll do."
After spring training ended in late March, the Dickinson High graduate and former University of Arizona baseball player found out he was the Sand Gnats' starting third baseman. Frenzel had primarily played first base throughout college and when his professional career started in 2011.
Though Frenzel isn't a stranger to playing third base, he had not played the position full time since his high school days.
"I hadn't played 10 straight games at third since high school, but I did play a little of third in college," Frenzel said.
In 68 games this season, Frenzel has spent a majority of his time at third base, but he's also shared time at first base. He has played 45 games at third, 26 at first and one game as the designated hitter. Frenzel played a couple of spring training games in the outfield.
Frenzel has flourished at both infield corner spots. With 106 chances at third base, he has made 12 errors for a fielding percentage of .887, while he has a .991 fielding percentage at first. Altogether, Frenzel has a .956 fielding percentage in 319 chances.
"In both corner spots, you are going to get some hard-hit balls and some raw hits, so you have to be on your toes," Frenzel said. "The third-base footwork is a little different than first, but you still just have to catch it and throw it."
One of his teammates, second baseman/shortstop Chad Zurcher, has spent many innings with Frenzel in the infield. The Mets' 31st-round pick in the 2011 draft from Knoxville, Tenn., is the Sand Gnats' leadoff hitter. Zurcher is batting .285 with 11 RBIs, six doubles and scored 19 runs.
"It's been a lot of fun playing with Cole," Zurcher said. "He's very versatile and he can play on both sides (of the infield). I'm around him a lot.
"It's a lot of fun playing with him, because he's a pretty laid back guy. He keeps the mood in the clubhouse light, while going out there and taking care of business every day as well."
One area the Sand Gnats haven't had any trouble with this season is winning.
Savannah, part of the South Atlantic League, has an overall record of 49-33 and claimed the mid-season championship to ensure itself a spot in the playoffs.
"We're excited about how the first half of the season went," said Brandon Nimmo, the Mets' top pick of the 2011 draft. "Hopefully, we can kind of repeat what we did in the first half. It gives you a little confidence going forward into the second half."
Nimmo, who is from Cheyenne, Wyo., said it wouldn't have come together unless everyone contributed. The Sand Gnats' center fielder is hitting .266 with six doubles, five triples, one home run, 23 RBIs and scored 35 runs.
"When you can have so many people come through in clutch situations, it takes pressure off of everyone," Nimmo said. "It makes so everyone can go up (to the plate) free and easy. The more pressure you can take off of just one person and spread it across the whole team makes a team more successful. That's what you see with us."
In June, Frenzel found himself in the middle of many of those game-winning situations. He batted .325 with five doubles, two home runs, 14 RBIs and scored 10 runs. Frenzel also had a .404 on-base percentage.
"June was really good, as far as statistical-wise," Frenzel said. "I'm just trying to stay short, keep the same approach and hit the ball hard. I was just able to find a few more holes in the month of June."
For the season, Frenzel is batting .242 with 12 doubles, five home runs, 31 RBIs and scored 34 runs. Though Frenzel didn't have the same amounts of hits in April and May, he felt he was seeing the ball well -- the hits just were falling.
"I was swinging the bat really well as far as well-hit balls, but it was right at guys or guys would run them down or make diving plays on them," Frenzel said. "That's just way it goes. A couple more hits here and there can change your average with 60 to 70 at-bats a lot."
Looking for a solid finish
Though winning the SAL mid-season championship and making the playoffs has put the Sand Gnats at ease, the team is still searching for more.
"We played really well as a team in the first half," Zurcher said. "The results were there and we're going to able to go to the playoffs at the end of the year."
As for Nimmo, he hopes to use the second half of the season as a measuring tool. The center fielder is 1-for-12 in the last three games, but said each day in professional baseball is a new experience.
"I feel like it's been a really productive season so far," Nimmo said. "I had a really good first half but I've been struggling a little lately. That's really good to go through, learning-wise. You are going to go through peaks and valleys in baseball. You need to learn how to deal with the failures just as much as you need to learn how to deal with the success."
Nimmo is not only looking forward to having a solid finish with the Sand Gnats, but a positive showing during the MLB All-Star Futures Game on July 14 at Citi Field -- the Mets' home ballpark -- in New York City. The center fielder was selected to the team via Futures Finalists fan vote.
"I'm just soaking it in and enjoying this time," Nimmo said. "I'm just trying to get better every day."
Frenzel wants to continue to build off a strong June and carry some momentum into the playoffs. He has been through professional playoffs during his first season with the Class A short-season Brooklyn Cyclones.
"We are looking to keep it going and continue to play good baseball," Frenzel said. "We are doing the things we need to do and working on the things we have to. We have a good team and things should take care of themselves.
"Hopefully, we can get something going, so we are pumped up and ready for the playoffs."