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Sam Fragale is developing into a star for VT Baseball. [Credit: VT Athletics][/caption]Entering the 2017 season, many wondered if this could be the big breakout year for Sam Fragale after showing plenty of promise in his first two seasons in Blacksburg. Now, it's clear that this is Sam Fragale's big breakout year as the junior from Pittsburgh has become one of the best power hitters in America so far this season.
As a redshirt freshman in 2015, Sam Fragale showed that he was definitely young, but he showed some promise with 24 starts that season even though he didn't hit the ball well at all with a .190 batting average, 1 home run, and 10 RBIs.
Fragale emerged as one of Virginia Tech's top bats in 2016 as arguably the best power hitter on the Hokies' roster as he hit 7 home runs and had 37 RBIs with a decent .267 batting average along with a solid .445 slugging percentage including 20 extra-base hits (7 HRs, 13 2Bs). Fragale was also the Hokies' starting third baseman, but he wasn't great defensively with 12 errors and a poor .887 fielding percentage that rose some red flags about his fielding ability.
Fragale had shown plenty of promise, but Fragale definitely hadn't reached a ceiling that he didn't seem likely to reach as a third baseman especially having quite a poor year defensively. In the offseason, Fragale made the move across the diamond from third to first base with Phil Sciretta gone and Jack Owens ready to take over at third base as Fragale's replacement at the hot corner.
19 games into the 2017 season, it seems like that move was quite wise with the Hokies now having an emerging star at first base.
Sam Fragale has become one of America's best power hitters while he is no longer is a big fielding liability with Fragale doing much better at first base rather than the hot corner. Fragale has had some big games including a three home run performance in the Hokies' season opener against USC Upstate, but Fragale has been consistently productive throughout the season, making him one of America's best run producers.
Fragale has been a complete hitter so far with a .400 batting average, 8 home runs, 28 RBIs, 6 doubles, 2 triples, a .443 on-base percentage, and an impressive .853 slugging percentage. Fragale also has been a better fielder working at first base rather than third with only 3 errors so far and a much-improved .983 fielding percentage.
Fragale's numbers become more impressive when put in perspective as not only does the redshirt junior lead the Hokies in batting average, home runs, RBIs, and on-base percentage but nationally, Fragale is tied for second in RBIs and home runs while also being eighth in slugging percentage, showing how Fragale has become one of the best power hitters in America and not just the best power hitter in Blacksburg.
Entering the 2017 season, many knew that the Hokies' strength would be their offense, and Fragale has made sure that their offense gives the Hokies the chance to win some games that they likely wouldn't otherwise with their struggling pitching staff.
Fragale has proven to be a high-quality middle-of-the-order bat that can take advantage of having solid table-setters like Jack Owens and Ryan Tufts ahead of him in the batting order and has turned into the Hokies' best run producers and someone who is already looking like someone who could receive some All-ACC recognition at the end of this season.
Fragale's strong start does make you wonder if Fragale may end up still being around next year as Fragale could end up going pro if he can get a high-enough bonus offer with this being the time of greatest leverage for college baseball players when they are juniors with one more year. If Fragale can stay near the top in the nation in these stats, it'll become harder to imagine Fragale staying one more year with what would likely be decent MLB Draft stock that included a chance at going in the top 10 rounds.
In 2017, Sam Fragale has emerged as a star for Virginia Tech baseball as one of America's top power hitters that will be ready to do some damage in conference play on an offense that the Hokies will have to rely on if they're going to surprise a lot of people in ACC play this season.