Steve Degler, color analyst for the Phillies’ Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs television network and sometime radio announcer for the Double-A Reading Phillies, knows new Nationals infielder Kevin Frandsen well. Degler has seen Frandsen play a lot over the last three seasons in the minors and with the Philadelphia Phillies.
“He is a very versatile guy, he can play all four infield spots, probably best-suited for second base and shortstop,” Degler said. “Hard-nosed. He plays the game hard all the time. He is one of those guys who kind seems like he is playing with a chip on his shoulder every day to prove something.
“He has been really good in the clutch at times. He likes to be under that pressure it seems. He tied for the major league lead last year with 14 pinch hits. He was hit by a pitch 11 times in 275 plate appearances. Shows what kind of player he is - he will take one for the team.”
Frandsen hitting .234 in 2013 and fielding ability
“He was really good in the first half, but he was .192 after the All-Star break,” Degler said. “So he went from .297 into the break and settled at .234. He certainly isn’t going to win a Gold Glove, but he is reliable enough (on defense).
“He has played the most at second and third in the big leagues, but he can get by at shortstop if you need it.”
On helping his older brother D.J. fight cancer
Frandsen’s older brother, D.J., fought Wilm’s tumor, a form of cancer for 19 years before dying in 2004. D.J. died at the age of 25. That first season in pro baseball, Kevin broke his collarbone, but it turned into a blessing in disguise because he was able to spend time with his brother during what turned out to be his last days.
Frandsen started a foundation called “19 for life” to honor D.J. and help others dealing with cancer. In July, Frandsen wears special red and yellow spikes to draw attention to the cause. Bocce ball tournaments and wine tasting were some of the types of fundraisers they have in San Jose, Calif., to help raise money to fight the disease.
2012 Lehigh Valley All-Star
“(He hit) .302 in 99 games,” Degler noted. “He got called up later that year. His 34 doubles was leading the International League when he was called up. Gritty, hard-nosed guy. I mean this as a compliment - he can get under the skin of an opponent. He will fight for everything, whether it is a take-out slide, getting hit by a pitch, he will do it to try to win. He is going to go out there and play his butt off every day.
“The year he was an All-Star, he was literally wrapped from head to toe almost every day. He was not healthy. You had to drag him out of there. You talk about playing hurt. That is the kind of guy you are going to get.”