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Buck Coats

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Outfielder Buck Coats has played in the majors from 2006 to 2008 with three different teams. In 2006 and 2007 he was in roughly equal numbers of games in left field, center field, and right field.

He is one of more than 30 players called primarily "Buck", not counting those called "Bucky" or those with other first names who have/had "Buck" as an alternative nickname (such as, for example, Zack Wheat, whose nickname was Buck). On the other hand, he is the only major leaguer (through 2007) with the last name Coats.

Coats was drafted in the 18th round in the 2000 amateur draft by the Chicago Cubs. He was signed by scout Sam Hughes and spent 2000-2006 and much of 2007 in the Cubs' chain. he made his major league debut with the Cubs in 2006, hitting .167 in 18 games, with his only major league homer, hit off Aaron Harang of the Cincinntai Reds. Traded in 2007 to the Cincinnati Reds organization, he briefly appeared for their minor league Louisville affiliate (hitting .438 in four games) and at the major league level in 20 games for the Reds. He hit .206 with the big league team. In 2008, he went 1 for 5 in 8 games in starting the season with the Blue Jays, but he was sent down to AAA and ended up playing 114 games with the Syracuse Chiefs, for whom he hit .286.

In his first eight minor league seasons (2000-2007), Coats stole 138 bases and hit .282, with his batting average higher in the last years than it was earlier on. In 2009, he spent the entire season with the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League, still in the Blue Jays organization, and hit .302 with 33 doubles. He played for Team USA in the 2009 Baseball World Cup, hitting .288/.397/.615 with four homers, four steals, 12 runs and 10 walks. He was the starting center fielder for the US. He hit a solo home run off Efrain Nieves to make it 2-0 in the 3-0 win over Puerto Rico that sent the US to the Gold Medal Game. In the finale, he was 1 for 5 with a double and run. He came to the plate in the 7th with a 4-4 tie against Cuba, two out and one on. He doubled off Norge Vera and scored on a hit by Justin Smoak as the US won 10-5. Excluding the final day's action, he was 10th in the event in OBP, tied for 6th with 33 total bases (even with Luke Hughes, Jimy Gonzalez, Brett Lawrie and Stefan Welch), tied for 5th in walks (10, even with Lino Connell, Gene Kingsale and Chris Snelling) and tied for first in steals (with Billy Rojo, Luis Matos, Paco Figueroa and Irving Falu).

He moved to the Kansas City Royals in 2010, and spent the first month of the season hitting .315 for the Omaha Royals. He was purchased by the Chicago White Sox on May 4th, and spent the rest of the year with two of their farm teams, hitting .338 in 18 games with the AA Birmingham Barons and .284 in 80 games for the AAA Charlotte Hornets. In 2011, he played only 9 games with the Harrisburg Senators, an affiliate of the Washington Nationals, hitting .261.

Coats is a line drive hitter whose strength is hitting for average, but he lacks the power that most teams look for in an outfielder, as he never hit more than 11 homers in any minor league season. He does have pretty good speed, 4 times stealing 20 or more bases in the minors. If he had come up 20 years earlier, he probably could have forged a nice major league career as a pinch-hitter and fifth outfielder, but this type of job is no longer available, as pitching staffs have bulged from an average of 10 pitchers per team to 12 or 13 now, with the same number of roster spots to accommodate all the extra arms.

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