Scouting Yankees Prospect #22: Matt Tracy

Tracy shows both polish and upside

The Yankees drafted left-handed pitcher Matt Tracy in the 24th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of the University of Mississippi. A two-way player in college, he not only showed advanced polish once permanently moving to the mound for the Staten Island Yankees in his debut season but he also saw a significant uptick in his overall stuff.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Matt Tracy
Position: Pitcher
DOB: November 26, 1988
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 215
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

He went 1-2 with a solid 3.04 ERA for the Staten Island Yankees in his debut season and struck out 48 batters in 47 1/3 innings.

"I thought it went really well," Tracy said. "I was lucky going in there [last] summer and being surrounded by a couple of good pitching coaches – Danny Borrell and when Danny went down [with an injury], ‘Rosey' [Jose Rosado] came up. They're both left-handers and Danny was a two-way guy in college a lot like myself.

"They really helped me out and I felt like I made some good adjustments throughout the summer mechanically-wise and I worked on a few pitches. Overall I thought it was a good summer."

Beyond the solid numbers though was just how good his stuff was, especially considering it was the first time in his life he focused solely on pitching after also playing outfield for Ole Miss on the days he didn't pitch.

"We were pleasantly surprised by the way he performed," Yankees senior vice president of scouting and player development Mark Newman said. "We put him in the rotation and he ended up being as good as anybody in that rotation. He didn't pitch on weekends at Ole Miss.

"[Our scout] Andy Cannizaro did a nice job. He'll get the fastball up to 94 mph, he's working on breaking ball consistency but he shows occasional quality breaking balls, he has feel for a changeup, he's athletic, and he competes. And he's left-handed, holy smoke!"

Showcasing an above average to plus fastball, an above average changeup, and a developing curveball that certainly looked the part of an above average to plus pitch on certain days, and throwing all of them consistently for strikes, Tracy's later round selection has already made him a 'sleeper' prospect of sorts.

"Yeah, without a doubt," Staten Island pitching coach Danny Borrell said. "Anytime you have a left-handed pitcher who is 91-94 mph and sits there for five to six innings at a time, I think his 'sleeper' status is going to end pretty soon.

"You mix in the fact that he has a pretty good idea of where he wants that fastball to go, his changeup [is a pitch] that he can throw for strikes at any point in the count, good arm speed and deception on that, and his curveball is a good pitch -- it's just a matter of what he wants to make that curveball into.

"I know several times throughout the season it was a put-away pitch, it was a plus big league pitch. He just needs a little more time on the mound, especially him being a position player in college. Once he gets a little more time in -- it's already clicking for him -- he should be fun to watch."

He worked exclusively on the curveball during Instructs this offseason and it came a long way from a consistency standpoint. While improving it further in the coming years will be a developmental mantra for him, what makes Tracy so intriguing is his advanced approach on the mound for a pitcher with so little experience.

"I think every pitcher would tell you that pitching inside is a great way to get people out, Tracy said. "It's my favorite pitch to throw. I think it makes the hitters uncomfortable.

"When I used to hit in college I hated to be thrown inside. Most people don't like it, it makes them uncomfortable, and it doesn't allow hitters to sit on everything out over the plate and take advantage of you."

A bit of an enigma in so many ways -- a lefty who throws hard and who also has two quality secondary pitches, one who has shown advanced command and a willingness to attack batters, and who has all of the necessary components to be a very good pitching prospect for the Yankees -- how he lasted as long as he did in the draft is a mystery in itself.

"He was more of a position player, but he's a 6-foot-4 lefty who throws strikes who will pitch in to righties which a lot of lefties won't do," Staten Island manager Tommy Slater said. "He's got good fastball command to both sides of the plate, a really good changeup, and they tell me that Instructional League that his curveball got better.

"Those three pitches right there have the chance to be really good. He's a great competitor. I think he's got the chance to be really good. He's athletic and he repeats his delivery well."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2011

Staten Island

1-2

14

47.1

41

16

48

3.04



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Tracy's fastball is a plus pitch for a left-handed pitcher for where it sits. It won't hit in the high-90s like some premium power southpaws have the ability to do, but his four-seam fastball consistently sits in the 91-94 mph range. Being left-handed, he gets really good natural tailing action with his fastball too. He also has great command of his fastball and his propensity to pitch inside to right-handed batters only makes his fastball that much more effective.

Other Pitches. Tracy throws a two-seam changeup that gets great fade and depth to it, and it is already an above average big league pitch that has long-term plus potential. He has the confidence to throw it in any count and it is a good strikeout weapon. He also throws a quality big league curveball that was more of a slurvy breaking ball in college but has quickly developed into more of spike curveball at the professional level. Sitting 78-80 mph with it, it gets more 12 to 6 action now and it is yet another strikeout pitch. He doesn't quite yet command it like he does his fastball and changeup, but it is getting oh-so close.

Pitching. Tracy's entire approach on the mound is one of an attacking style. Not only does he go right at batters with a quality big league three-pitch mix with command, but his goal on the mound is to keep hitters from getting comfortable. He pitches inside to batters with the best of them and that allows him to expand the zone. A former outfielder, he is a great athlete who repeats his delivery well, fields his position, and can hold runners close in the running game. Beyond his natural talent, however, it's his very competitive nature that is the driving force.

Projection. Forget that fact that he was a $2,000 sign, Tracy has great upside and surprisingly few weaknesses for a pitcher with so little experience. Tall left-handed pitchers with his kind of athleticism and command of three big league pitches, including a good power fastball, are quite rare. He has some work to do to make his curveball into a consistent plus pitch, but should that aspect of his game come together for him in the coming years, he projects best as middle of the rotation big league starting pitcher who, like former Yankee southpaw Andy Pettitte, could pitch better than that on any given day.

ETA. 2014. Tracy is a decent bet to possibly skip the low-A level to begin the 2012 season, but even if he begins his first full season in Charleston he should still see ample time in the Florida State League later in the year.

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