Most people who saw this blog post title probably asked themselves “Erik who?” and skimmed right passed it to read something more interesting. For the nine people who clicked the link, I commend you.
Indeed, Erik Kratz is hardly a household name—unless you are a fan of minor league baseball or the Pittsburgh Pirates, you probably have never heard of him. However, he still does have a shred of significance—to me, at least.
About a month ago, I wrote an article entitled Hey Old Guy! Minor Leaguers Who Just Won’t Quit, which discussed the small collection of career minor leaguers 30 years of age and older who have yet to reach the big leagues. As you probably guessed, Erik Kratz was one of those players.
The catcher Kratz has been toiling away in minor league baseball since 2002, after being taken by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 29th round of the amateur draft. He got off to a good start in his minor league career, with averages of .275, .306 and .299 in his first three professional seasons.
Then the struggles came—from 2005 to 2008, his yearly averages were only .205, .228, .235 and .239. He contemplated retirement multiple times, though he opted each time to give it another year.
Following the 2008 season, Kratz became a free-agent and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He boosted his average to .273, earning a spot on the International League All-Star team, earning All-Star Game MVP honors.
He performed even better in 2010, hitting .296 in 56 games, garnering another All-Star Game selection. It was in that game that he got news of the call—in the fifth inning, he was pulled aside and told of his good fortunes.
Kratz is the first of those 30-somethings stuck in the minors to finally make it to the big leagues. By the end of the season, there will certainly be at least a couple more.
Tags: Baseball, Pittsburgh Pirates