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Frazier older, wiser in return to Tri-City

Good to see Parker Frazier back in Tri-Cities at least for the start of the 2010 season.

Last Dust Devils fans saw of him in 2008, he was just 19 years old and still pretty green when it came to professional baseball. At the time, he was coming off a rough first year in Casper, where he got touched up for a brutal ERA of 10.07.

But the 6-foot-5 right-hander landed a spot in the Dust Devils rotation and ran with it. He was one of the bright spots of the staff that year, leading the team in wins (5), innings pitched (87) and tying for the team lead with 61 strikeouts.

Last season at Asheville he led the Tourists with 10 wins in 23 starts and continued hitting his spots with a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. That was one thing he really excelled at was keeping the number of free passes to a minimum. I remember during one stretch in 2008, he faced 111 straight batters without allowing a walk, an amazing feat for any pitcher and a good display of control.

Now at the ripe old age of 21, it sounds like Frazier has learned a few more tricks of the trade to go with a low-90s fastball, strong slider and a plus curve.

“He’s a prick on the mound,” said Dust Devils pitching coach Joey Eischen, throwing Frazier one of baseball’s strongest compliments.

Frazier has been working with Eischen, who pitched 10 seasons in the major leagues, for the last three months out of extended spring training in Tucson, Ariz., and the two have hit it off well.

“The guy’s played 20 years of professional baseball,” Frazier said. “You just sit and listen.”

And it sounds like Frazier, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery last September, will not only nail down a spot in the starting rotation, but he’ll likely get a chance to stretch his arm out a bit earlier than expected. His doctors have told him he’s way ahead of schedule in the recovery process, which is typically about 12 months.

Frazier thinks he’ll start with a pitch count of 75 in his first start and then go from there. And he's pretty happy to be back in a familiar place.

"It's nice to come back to a place where you performed well," he said.