Kratz on Phillies Photo Day 2013
|Kansas City Royals – No. 19|
June 15, 1980 |
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|July 17, 2010 for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
(through June 20, 2014)
|Runs batted in||63|
Erik Floyd Kratz (born June 15, 1980) is an American professional baseball catcher for the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball. He stands 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm) and weighs 240 pounds (110 kg). Kratz played baseball at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School and Eastern Mennonite University until he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 29th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft.
After playing for seven years with minor-league affiliates of the Toronto Blue Jays, from 2002 through 2008, Kratz signed a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates to play for the Indianapolis Indians in 2009. He made his Major League Baseball debut on July 17, 2010 to replace Jason Jaramillo. Before the 2011 season, Kratz signed a minor-league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and played with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, appearing several times in 2011 and 2012 at the Major-League level and ultimately winning the backup catcher job on the Phillies' 2013 roster. He was dealt back to the Toronto Blue Jays organization prior to the 2014 season, dividing his playing time between Toronto and the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons before being traded to the Kansas City Royals in July.
Kratz graduated from Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, Pennsylvania and Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia. While with the Eastern Mennonite Royals from 1999 to 2002, he caught every at-bat for every game he played and was named the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Year twice.
Minor league career
After the draft, Kratz worked his way up through the minor leagues over the course of 3 years with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays, Auburn Doubledays, Charleston AlleyCats, New Haven Ravens, and Dunedin Blue Jays. He then played the 2005 season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. There, he had a .205 batting average, 11 home runs, and 34 runs batted in. From 2006 to 2008, Kratz alternated between the Fisher Cats and the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. In 2006, he had a combined .228 average, 7 home runs, and 34 RBIs; in 2007, he had a combined .235 average, 13 home runs, and 49 RBIs; in 2008, he had a combined .239 average, 16 home runs, and 43 RBIs. On June 9, 2008, he was named the International League Player of the Week.
In 2009, Kratz signed with the Pirates, who were in need of a primary Triple-A catcher after the call up of Robinzon Diaz to replace the injured Ryan Doumit. He played the 2009 season with the Indianapolis Indians and finished with a .273 batting average, 11 home runs, and 43 RBIs. He was named the International League Mid-Season All-Star and the International League Triple-A All-Star Game Top Star on July 15 and the International League Post-Season All-Star on September 1.
Kratz began the 2010 season with the Indianapolis and finished his minor league season with a .274 batting average, 9 home runs, and 41 RBIs. On July 14, he was named the International League Mid-Season All-Star for the second time.
He made his Major League debut on July 17, 2010 against the Houston Astros. He batted 7th and recorded his first hit against Astros starter Bud Norris, a single to right center field and drove in his first run later in the game. He finished the night hitting 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. Kratz appeared in 9 games over a two-week period, batting .118.
Kratz signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 2011 season. He spent the season with their Triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley IronPigs, where he batted a .288 BA with 15 home runs and 53 RBIs. On July 13, he won his third International League Mid-Season All-Star award. He was called up to the big league club on September 16, and went on to play two games with the Phillies, recording two hits in six at-bats.
Kratz opened the 2012 season with Lehigh Valley, but had several stints on the Phillies' active roster. He hit his first career Major League home run on May 22, a solo shot against Washington Nationals pitcher Tom Gorzelanny that landed in the center field bushes at Citizens Bank Park. Acting initially as a pinch hitter to replace the injured Jim Thome, Kratz later assumed a catching job following injuries to backup catcher Brian Schneider and All-Star starter Carlos Ruiz.
He quickly began producing offensively, registering a 1.395 OPS in his first 16 games. His hot hitting while filling in for the injured Ruiz caused former Wilmington News Journal beat writer David Hale to "Kratz his hands" uncontrollably. Ultimately, Kratz hit .248 with 9 home runs in 50 games and 141 at-bats.
Kratz made his first Major League Opening Day roster with the Phillies in 2013. He served as the team's primary catcher while Ruiz served a 25-day drug suspension, but was placed on the disabled list on June 9 with a torn medial meniscus and underwent surgery. He returned to the club on July 21, and continued as backup catcher thereafter. Kratz finished the season with a .213 batting average, 42 hits, 9 home runs, and 26 RBIs.
Toronto Blue Jays
On December 3, 2013, Kratz, along with pitcher Rob Rasmussen, was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Brad Lincoln. Kratz had a strong spring, batting .400 before being demoted to minor-league camp in favor of Josh Thole. On March 30, he was recalled from Triple-A after Casey Janssen was placed on the disabled list. Kratz appeared in 6 games for the Blue Jays and batted .200 before being optioned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons to make room for J. A. Happ.
Kansas City Royals
On July 28, 2014, Kratz was traded with Liam Hendriks to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Danny Valencia. He had his first career multi-homer game on August 18 in a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Kratz is a devout member of the Souderton, Pennsylvania Mennonite Church. Up until 2009, Kratz worked a construction job in the winter to support his family. He has a wife named Sarah and two sons named Brayden and Ethan.
- Good, Sheldon (3 October 2011). "Ballplayer feels right at home". Mennonite World Review. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- "EMU, Christopher Dock grad gets big-league baseball call". Mennonite World Review. 2 August 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- Miller, Sam (September 14, 2012). "Pebble Hunting: The best story of 2012". Baseball Prospectus (Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, LLC.). Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- "Erik Kratz Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights". MiLB.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
- Zolecki, Todd (17 September 2011). "Brown among several Phillies callups". phillies.com: News. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Carlos Ruiz of Philadelphia Phillies suspended for 25 games after positive test". ESPN. November 12, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
- Short, D.J. (June 10, 2013). "Erik Kratz to undergo surgery for medial mensicus tear in knee". HardballTalk. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
- Silva, Drew (December 3, 2013). "Phillies acquire Brad Lincoln from the Blue Jays for Erik Kratz and Rob Rasmussen". hardballtalk.nbcsports.com. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- Kennedy, Brendan (March 26, 2014). "Toronto Blue Jays name Josh Thole backup catcher; Erik Kratz cut despite strong pre-season". thestar.com. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- Franzoni, Kyle (March 30, 2014). "Toronto Blue Jays Send Casey Janssen To DL, Erik Kratz Recalled From Buffalo". jaysjournal.com. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- Davidi, Shi (April 13, 2014). "Jays put Izturis on DL, Happ to be activated". Sportsnet. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
- Chisholm, Gregor (July 28, 2014). "Blue Jays shore up infield depth, acquire Valencia". MLB.com. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
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