Jake Arnold Fraley
Height: 6'0" Weight: 195
Bats/Throws: Left / Left
Born: 05/25/1995 in Frederick, Maryland
Offseason home: Miami, Forida
College: Louisiana State University
Family: Wife Angelica, son Jayce, daughter Avery
Acquired: In trade from the Tampa Bay Rays, with Mallex Smith, for Mike Zunino, Guillermo Heredia, and Michael Plassmeyer (11/08/2018)
MLB Debut: 08/21/2019
Free Agent after: 2025 season
Twitter handle: @jfral_23
Prior to last year's abbreviated season, management told the press that Fraley would get every opportunity to be the regular left fielder for the Mariners. That turned out to be prime-grade bullpuckey, as Fraley wasn't even included on the expanded opening day roster—nor was he on last year's weird traveling taxi squad—and spent most of the short campaign at the club's alternate training site, effectively twiddling his thumbs in intrasquad practices. Instead, the M's used José Marmolejos and Braden Bishop and waiver pickup Phillip Ervin, with Fraley himself only getting into seven games in 2020. It had to sting for Fraley, especially given the production (or lack thereof) those other guys were putting up (Marmolejos, Bishop, and Ervin combined to bat .199/.276/.352). Couple that with the fact that Fraley is perhaps the best defensive outfielder in last year's mix and when you think it through you come up with a big "WTF?"
So did Fraley. "When I got [sent back] down after having about five games [with Seattle last year] and they claimed Phillip Ervin, that was kind of a big turning point for me mentally," Fraley said. "And I really had to take a step back. And I spent a lot of time trying to reel myself back into a solid ground, a solid place, because I wasn't really there."
In 2019, Fraley was outstanding as a minor leaguer. He started the year at Double-A Arkansas and mashed; he was named Texas League player of the month for May and a midseason and postseason Texas League All-Star. Promoted to Tacoma after 61 games, he started slow but adjusted to Triple-A and picked things up, earning a callup to the big leagues late in August. He scuffled in a couple of weeks' worth of games with the M's and got hurt, landing on the injured list with a sprained thumb, and has yet to be given any chance to acclimate to the Majors. Going into this year's spring camp, we once again heard from manager Scott Servais and GM Jerry Dipoto how Fraley was going to be the guy, but after last year, we know not to take those guys at their word on such things. A slow start in his Cactus League games didn't help Jake's cause, and even though he's started to turn things around in the latter half of camp, he's being strongly challenged by prospect Taylor Trammell, who despite a strong spring has never played a game above Double-A, where he spent one season (2019) and hit all of .234.
You can make a case for starting Fraley's season in Triple-A; he's only had a few dozen games' experience at that level, after all, though if that's your metric then Trammell shouldn't even be a factor. But even if the M's go that route, Fraley deserves a chance to move up, especially if he picks right up in Tacoma where he left off in ’19. With prospect Jarred Kelenic quickly moving up the minor-league ladder, the window of opportunity for Fraley appears short; the former second-round draft selection (2016) is going to be a big-league regular at some point, the question now is whether it will be as a Mariner or with some other club after Dipoto and Servais are done screwing him over.