Former Southern baseball standout Frazier Hall still chasing the dream _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS shot on 4-17-2011. 00025151a. Prairie View's Brandon Williams (24) gets safely back to first base on a pick-off attempt as Southern first-baseman Frazier Hall (43) waits for the ball in the eighth inning of Southern's 7-0 win over Prairie View Sunday at Lee-Hines Field.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Versatility has always been one of Frazier Hall’s biggest assets. And with the independent Grand Prairie Air Hogs, the Southern product has played third base and first base before recently moving to the outfield.

Hall made his first start in right field June 21 against Amarillo and has now started the past 12 games there, and Air Hogs manager Ricky VanAsselberg is a big fan of Hall’s versatility. “He’s got a lot to offer a ballclub,” VanAsselberg said. “His worth is a lot to our ballclub because he can play a lot of different positions.”

In 41 games this season, Hall is hitting .275 with three home runs and 15 RBIs. He hit .268 with two home runs and 13 RBIs with the Air Hogs last season in 18 games before a thumb injury ended his season prematurely.

He originally came to Grand Prairie in 2013, when the Arizona Diamondbacks organization released him after a 25-game stint with Low Single-A South Bend. And over the past year, he’s come to appreciate the uniqueness associated with playing unaffiliated ball.

“Playing affiliated ball, it’s definitely something fun. You’re chasing your dream, but you’re also chasing your dream out here,” Hall said. “One of the things that independent leagues do is they try and mimic affiliate ball in every which way. They try to mimic affiliate ball to the major-league side more than the minor-league side.”

One specific aspect of independent ball he especially enjoys is that the priority there is simpler: winning games.

“When you come over here to the independent leagues, we’re really all about winning, which is a great thing because in affiliate ball it’s more about development,” he said.

Grand Prairie, just west of Dallas and near Arlington, is the fourth locale he’s played in as a professional, joining Orem, Utah, where he played rookie ball in 2011 right after being drafted in the 16th round by the Angels; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and South Bend, Indiana, both cities in the Low Single-A Midwest League.

Hall appreciated those places while playing there but admits there is something special about now playing in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

“I have family in Irving, so I get to drive home every single night to go see them, stay with them, all that which is huge,” he said. “In the game of baseball, things can get monotonous over time, but having something to go back to, different scenery, it helps to just unload at the end of the day. This is just a fun area in general, because I’ve played in a whole lot of towns where there is nothing. We all get to enjoy ourselves. There’s tons to do here.”

He has not only embraced playing in Grand Prairie but under VanAsselberg, he has flourished because of his hands-off approach to his players.

“He lets me refine myself. He sees that I was a guy that got into affiliate ball, I did extremely well in the beginning and then there was a whole lot of changes really, really quick. It was hard for me to keep up with those, and so I kind of lost myself,” Hall said.

A prime example of that approach came when VanAsselberg decided to put him at third earlier this year despite knowing his best position was on the other side of the diamond at first. But it was a decision that has already paid dividends.

“He put me at third base, just left me alone. He said, ‘Go over there, you’ll figure it out,’ and that was one of the greatest things that I could have had from any coach, is not having someone constantly say ‘do this, do that,’ ” Hall said.

This year marks his fourth in professional baseball, and Hall is still just 26. Should everything go according to plan, he’d like to play at least a decade before transitioning into another side of the game that has always interested him: broadcasting.

Some feel he would also be great at coaching, but considering he was a broadcast major at Southern and that’s where his true passion seems to lie, outside of playing, getting behind the microphone could be his other calling once his playing days are over.

In fact, during spring training in 2013 when he was still with the Angels, he had dinner with Chicago White Sox television analyst Steve Stone, a former American League Cy Young Award winner who has been a broadcaster since the early 1980s. During that dinner, he listened to Stone’s stories about working with the likes of Harry Caray and current broadcast partner Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, which reaffirmed just how much he wanted to one day enter that field.

“He’s friends with some friends, so we all decided to get dinner one night in spring training,” Hall said. “(I) just got to hear him talk and stuff like that and him telling me all the fun stories and what not, but it seems like a super cool life that I would love to go after.”

And even with broadcasting in the back of his mind as something he’d like to try one day, his current focus remains on how he can help the Air Hogs win, no matter where on the diamond he is playing and also on continuing his development both on and off the field.

“I’m here for refinement, to get to know myself better, to refine my physical aspects of the game and also the mental aspects of the game,” Hall said. “For me, yeah, it is the dream, because I still get to play baseball.

“I still get to wake up every single day; I get to do something and get paid to do it. I have a goal, and that goal, regardless of where I would be, is to make it to the major leagues.

“The dream is to continue to fight and chase it, and I don’t see any reason to stop.”