Here’s another tag team prospect profile from Dayne Huber and I. Enjoy.
Most Yankee fans know all about our top pitching prospects like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Jose Campos. Fans that follow our minor league system a little more closely probably know a couple of other guys like DJ Mitchell, Adam Warren, David Phelps, Brett Marshall and the mystery/legend that is Rafael Depaula. One of the biggest strengths in our farm system is the incredible depth of quality arms. Most of these guys are unknown to people who don’t follow prospects closely. One of these lesser know pitching prospects that we should get to know is Matt Tracy
Tracy was selected in the 24th round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Mississippi. In college Tracy was a two way player that wasn’t really a standout on the mound or with his bat, so he wasn’t highly regarded as a prospect, which allowed the Yankees to take a gamble on the left-hander in a late round. The Yankees scouted him as a pitcher and saw a left hander with a great pitcher’s frame and decent stuff but would be something of a project, especially for a four year college player. Tracy signed fairly quickly after the draft and the Yankees made his move to the mound permanent.
Once they got him into camp they were pleasantly surprised. Since Tracy was a two way player in college he really hadn’t worked extensively on his pitching. After the Yankees coaches got their hands on him and made some adjustments he immediately started to show increased stuff as well as much improved control and command. They put him into the Staten Island rotation while they continued to clean up his mechanics and worked with him on his breaking pitches. He pitched very well, especially considering he was working on changing his motion and grips on his pitches. He finished his first full season as a pitcher strong, throwing 47 innings, only allowing 41 hits, 16 earned runs, only issuing 16 walks compared to 48 strikeouts ending with a very solid 3.04 ERA
Tracy used the short off season to continue to improve his mechanics, delivery and refine his breaking pitches. When he showed up at instuct this past winter he had improved by leaps and bounds in a short period of time. Tracy was never thought to have much of a power arm in college but with the refined mechanics he started to show a four seamer at 91-94 mph touching 96. His fastball has late life to it, a strong tailing action and he has excellent command making it a plus pitch for him. He also showed an above average two seam change up in the low to mid 80′s that he gets great depth and fade on. He has plus control of it and is able to throw it for strikes in any count. He throws his change up from the same arm slot as his fastball with great arm speed so he gets great deception with it. It is a true big league plus pitch.
Besides the improved velo on his fastball, his biggest improvements came with his breaking pitch. When he was drafted he threw a very inconsistent slurve that was nothing more than a show me pitch. The Yanks made a couple adjustments with his grip and release point. He quickly transformed that pitch into a true 12-6 spike curve ball. He throws his curve ball in the 77-81 range and has flashed above average command with it. At times this winter his curve ball was a true put away pitch for him, showing plus potential but it is inconsistent. He was drawing high praises this winter and spring from coaches and scouts alike for his rapid improvements with his motion, ability to keep hitters off balance, athleticism, and demeanor on the mound coupled with a strong work ethic.
With his great size, 6’3 220lbs, improved arsenal, excellent command and rapidly improving polish he began to draw comparisons to a young Pettitte. He pitched so well this winter and in spring training that the Yanks had him skip Low-A altogether and sent him straight to High A. At the end of spring training he suffered a badly pulled hamstring that delayed his much anticipated debut this year until mid May. He didn’t miss a beat though, throwing five scoreless innings his first outing. Since he has come back he has been dominant. In the 36 innings he has thrown, he is pitching to a 1.26 ERA, allowing only 24 hitsand five earned runs while striking out 23 and holding his opponents to a .207 batting average.
Having only been pitching full time for less than a year, the results and improvements have been staggaring. Much like other young pitchers Tracy’s future role greatly depends on how he continues to develop his 3rd pitch. The strides he has shown with his curve ball and his ability to maintain his fastball velocity for six inning mean that there’s a strong chance he can remain a starter. Tracy is already 23 so he’s a little behind other pitchers his age but with the ability he already shown he should be a fast mover. Its a little early to know his true ceiling but he has the makings of a solid middle of the rotation starter or a very good late inning reliever. His ETA is greatly dependent on his future role and health but if he stays a starter there’s a possibility he could be in the MLB by late 2014 or early 2015.