Andy Tracy – the new Chris Coste?
If you live in the Philadelphia area or are a Phillies fan in general, you know the story of Chris Coste, a career minor league player who finally received a chance to play in the big league’s with the Phillies in 2006 at the young age of 33. He would hit .328 that year and help win a World Series with the Phillies just three years later.
A name you may never have heard is Andy Tracy, another well traveled minor league player who has never gotten a real chance to play at the Major League level. In 1380 games played at the Minor League level, which is roughly 9 full seasons, Tracy has accumulated 296 doubles and 257 home runs. He has hit 20 or more home runs in 8 seasons and 20 or more doubles in 7 seasons. He has had two seasons with 120+ runs batted in. So how does a guy who is rated by scout.com to have an 88 in power and an 88 in patience and has dominated at virtually every Minor League level never get a chance in the Major League’s? It all comes down to dumb luck.
When Adam Tracy was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1996 David Segui was playing first base and playing it well. Between 1996 and 1997 he would hit .297/.378/.475. Realistically, Tracy did not have a shot until 1999 when he would accumulate arguably his best year in his early career hitting 25 doubles, 37 home runs, and knocking in 128 runs for double-A Harrisburg in only 134 games. Unfortunately, Brad Fulmer was on the Expos in 1998 and 1999 accumulating a .276 batting average and finishing top 5 in rookie of the year voting.
Following his career year in 1999, Andy Tracy was shipped to the New York Mets, who shortly thereafter picked up Mo Vaughn, who at the time was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. Vaughn was coming off a year that saw 36 home runs and 117 runs batted in. After just one season in the Mets organization he was sent to the Colorado organization for the following three years. He would follow up his first season of 24 doubles and 25 home runs with 42 doubles. 33 home runs and 120 runs batted the following year. Unfortunately the Rockies had Todd Helton, who averaged 47 doubles, 28 home runs, 97 runs batted in, a .343 batting average and a .457 onn base percentage those same three seasons.
The following two seasons, in 2006 and 2007, Andy Tracy would split time between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets. So for the second time in his career Tracy sat behind Kevin Millar on the Orioles who accumulated 26 doubles, 15 home runs and a .374 on base percentage in 2006. When he was shipped back to the Mets organization for the 2007 season, he was behind Carlos Delgado, who was coming off his 10th consecutive season of 30 or more home runs.
His most recent two seasons have been spent in the Phillies minor league system. In 2008 he would hit .288 with 34 doubles and 22 runs batted in. In 2009 he would add another 23 doubles and 25 home runs. Spending his entire season with Lehigh Valley, he led the league in walks, finished second in home runs and runs batted in, and finish fourth in runs scored. In nine games with the Phillies he went 4-8. But dumb luck yet again finds Andy Tracy hitting behind former MVP Ryan Howard.
Barring an injury or two, Andy Tracy will remain a career minor league player. This past week he was one of seven players invited to the Phillies Spring Training camp for the upcoming season. But unless the Phillies are looking for another left handed bat off the bench the only time he will see is a call-up in August or September.