Willie Fraser – 1987 Donruss

March 3, 2012

He Was A Rated Rookie? Really?

I received this card today from Hilfew, who while I argue about advanced metrics with him I dig that he’s a Rockies collector (and baseball fan, naturally) so I have a home for any of my Rockies bling. He also took care of one of my set needs and whacked a few others down to size. Good job, internet trade!

I was surprised when I saw that Fraser was a ‘Rated Rookie’. Fraser was one of those guys that my AL Rotiss League never drafted, and we had 12 teams in the league! He was a roster filler, and the Angels had no shortage of pitchers like that in the 80’s.

He had a very fast rise in the Angels farm system, either by design or desperation. A first round pick in 1985 (out of Concordia College – Bronxville (Yo!)), he spent 1985 being cuffed around in the Midwest League (maybe it was culture shock to go from New York City to the Quad Cities), but had a decent 1986 in AA and AAA before matriculating to the bigs for one forgettable start during the Angels’ pennant year of 1986 (six hits and four runs in 4 1/3 against Cleveland in September).

The Angels fell apart in 1987, though it wasn’t Fraser’s issue. He was 10-10 as a swingman with an ERA+ of 111 and a 1.9 WAR. Pretty good numbers for a rookie. But 1988 was a disaster (12-13, 5.41, 71 ERA+, -1.8 WAR) and after that he was relegated to the back-40 of the bullpen. His 1989 and 1990 were decent, but he never instilled confidence for the Angels to use him when they had a lead (only 20 of his 89 appearances where when California was ahead). He then was part of the bounty the Blue Jays received when they stole Devon White in exchange for Junior Felix and Luis Sojo.

From there, he went here, there, everywhere, and hung ’em up after spending most of 1995 in lovely Ottawa, Ontario.

Seeing ‘Rated Rookie” on Frasier’s card (and seeing him called Will, not Willie) was just a shock. I just remember him as a vagabond and an afterthought, but for a brief time he was a prospect.

You have to remember that it’s baseball, though, except for the few fame is fleeting. But we have the cards – yes we have the cards.

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