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Erik Kratz

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Erik Floyd Kratz

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Erik Kratz played nine seasons in the minor leagues before being called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 15th, 2010. He was expected to be a backup for Ryan Doumit for the balance of the season, replacing Jason Jaramillo, but Doumit was injured with a concussion a few days after his call-up, handing Kratz the starting job.

Kratz set a NCAA Division III record for doubles in a career. The Toronto Blue Jays took him in the 29th round of the 2002 amateur draft. He debuted with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays, batting .275/.318/.394. In 2003, he was with the Auburn Doubledays (.312/.411/.503), Charleston AlleyCats (6 for 19, 3 2B, BB) and New Haven Ravens (0 for 4).

Kratz played only 29 games for 3 teams in 2004, despite a solid .299/.343/.443 with 11 doubles overall. He said he was on the phantom disabled list with imaginary shin injuries so that the Jays didn't need to keep him active. He considered retiring from baseball but stayed around. In '05, the Telford native produced at a .205/.283/.353 rate with 11 homers in 292 AB for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats as their primary catcher.

Kratz batted .225/.290/.332 in 71 games for the Fisher Cats, backing up Curtis Thigpen in 2006. He also was 10 for 40 with five walks, 2 doubles and a homer in 12 games that year for the Syracuse SkyChiefs in his AAA debut. That season, Erik again contemplated retirement. In 2007, he hit .250/.317/.506 in 49 games for New Hampshire with 8 homers in 160 AB and .214/.273/.366 in 35 games for Syracuse with 5 home runs in 112 AB.

In 2008, Erik slammed 16 homers in 247 AB between New Hampshire (.245/.347/.500 in 33 G) and Syracuse (.234/.287/.510 in 40 G). Despite posting impressive power numbers, he continued to be used in a part-time role, leading him to consider retirement for a third time.

A free agent, Erik signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2009. They assigned him to the AAA Indianapolis Indians and gave him a regular role, especially after Robinzon Diaz was traded. Kratz hit .273/.337/.470 for the 2009 Indians with 30 doubles and 11 home runs in 309 AB. He was one double behind team leader Neil Walker. He tied Shelley Duncan, Jesus Feliciano and Mike Hessman for 10th in the International League for doubles. He played for the IL in the 2009 AAA All-Star Game and starred, with a double and 2-run homer to win MVP honors. Kratz also was named the IL All-star catcher at year's end.

Through 2009, Kratz had a career batting line of .250/.318/.427 in 555 games. He has fielded .993 at catcher and also pitched four games, allowing four runs in five innings.

In spring training 2010, the Pirates talked about keeping Kratz as their backup to Ryan Doumit, in order to give Jason Jaramillo more regular action at AAA instead of riding the pine in the majors. The Bucs opted against this plan and decided to go with Jaramillo in the majors and Kratz at AAA to start the season. On April 26, Kratz pitched a scoreless inning for Indianapolis and it was not in a blowout - in the bottom of the 15th inning, he entered with a 7-6 lead over the Louisville Bats with the Indians out of pitchers. He kept the Bats from rallying to give Indianapolis the win. Kratz hit .296/.396/.550 in his first 56 games for the Indians that year and again made the AAA All-Star Game.

Kratz was called up to the majors after the All-Star break in 2010, replacing Jaramillo as the backup to Ryan Doumit. He made his debut on July 17th, going 2 for 5 with an RBI against the Houston Astros. He popped up against Bud Norris in his first at-bat, then singled in the 5th for his first MLB hit. On July 21, Doumit suffered a concussion and had to be placed on the disabled list, making Kratz the starter in the majors, with Jaramillo his back-up. However, he went hitless in his next 14 at-bats, putting that plan into question, and was sent down shortly thereafter, after batting .118/.167/.118 in 9 games.

Kratz became a free agent and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2011 season, but only played two games in the majors that year, going 2 for 6. The rest of the year was spent with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs where he hit a solid .288 with 19 doubles and 15 homers. In 2012, he hit .266 in 37 games for the IronPigs before getting the call to Philadelphia. This time, he stayed for an extended period, playing 50 games during which he hit .258 with 9 doubles and 9 homers. He returned as the team's primary back-up behind Carlos Ruiz in 2013, hitting .213 in 68 games, with 7 doubles and 9 homers. On December 3rd, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays along with P Rob Rasmussen in return for P Brad Lincoln; the Blue Jays had just non-tendered their starting catcher, J.P. Arencibia, the day before, and were looking to add some depth at the position. He ended up spending the first half of the 2014 season with Toronto, hitting .198 with 3 homers and 10 RBIs in 34 games, then was traded to the Kansas City Royals, along with P Liam Hendriks, in return for 3B Danny Valencia, on July 28th.

Sources include the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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