07/02/2015 7:34 AM
Vladimir Frias is considered one of the best defensive shortstops in the American Association. (Photo by John Ellis.)
By TAYLOR WORTHINGTON
Certain athletes find their passion within a sport at an early age. Kansas City T-Bones shortstop Vladimir Frias is no exception in that aspect.
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Frias stressed how baseball had such a tremendous impact on his life. Growing up in a baseball family, including an uncle and a cousin who played professionally in the United States, made Frias believe that he was destined for the game.
“Baseball is in my roots,” he said.
Frias originally attended Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. The school’s baseball program counts Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter and current and former major-league players Jose Bautista, Mat Gamel, Adam Loewen and Russell Martin among its alumni. Houston selected Frias in the 44th round of the 2004 MLB June Amateur Draft, but he passed on the opportunity and transferred to Tennessee Wesleyan. Four years later, in 2008, San Francisco picked Frias in the 30th round.
Frias has played at every level professionally, except in the majors, for the San Francisco, Boston and Chicago Cubs organizations. (Incidentally, both Boston and Chicago purchased Frias’ contract from Gateway of the independent Frontier League.)
Baseball fans of all ages would mutually agree that watching a smooth-fielding shortstop is a thing of beauty. That’s certainly the case for T-Bones fans watching Frias, whose ability prompted his middle infield teammate, Ryan Cavan, to say, “From experience I know that he makes the extremely tough plays look routine.” Because of that, Frias is widely considered the best defensive shortstop in the American Association.
“I appreciate people speaking of me in that way,” said Frias. “I take a lot of pride in my game, and I want that to show. I have worked a lot on my hitting, because I want to be a complete player.”
The practice is paying off for Frias, who currently leads the T-Bones in home runs with five, and is second on the team with a .321 batting average.
Since joining the T-Bones before the 2014 season, Frias has worn uniform number 11. If he had his choice, though, there are a couple other numbers that he’d prefer.
“My first option would have to be the number seven. My favorite player in the MLB right now wears that number, Hanley Ramirez. I try to model my game after his,” Frias said. “The other would be the number two. Another one of my favorites in the game is Jose Reyes, so I would also want to represent him by wearing his jersey number.”
When looking to the future Frias makes it a point to take it one day at a time.
“You never know which day is going to be your last,” he said, “so you just need to do the best you can day in and day out.”
When that last day does come as a player, Frias plans on staying involved in the game he’s loved his whole life.
“Baseball is all I’ve ever known, so I can’t imagine not being around the field,” he said. “Whether it be coaching or other options, I can’t imagine staying away.”