TRENTON, NJ – Matt Tracy had just completed what has become his usual performance Monday afternoon on Arm&Hammer Park.
He threw six innings, allowed two runs, walked one and struck out two. He got 11 ground-ball outs in the Thunder’s 5-2,. 10-inning loss to the Akron Rubber Ducks, Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate.
Given the 25-year-old left-hander, who put together an 8-2, 3.28 mark in 16 appearances (14 starts) in Trenton, recorded his 10th straight quality start, the question had to be asked.
“Is it time Tracy earned a promotion to Scranton?”
Thunder manager Tony Franklin quickly asked, “Have you been talking to him? He’s going to the (Eastern League) All-Star Game (in Altoona Wednesday), then he’s going to Scranton. He’s earned it.”
Franklin the added lefty reliever Tyler Webb, who was 1-6, 4.04 in Trenton with seven saves after earlier stop at Scranton, in which he want 0-2, 3.13 in three starts.
Tracy has pitched solidly in Trenton, flashing a fastball that can hit 94 and sits at 92-93, an impressive 78-82 curve that is a swing-and-miss pitch and an effective change-up. That package ought to serve the former University of Mississippi two-way player, who was drafted in 24th round of the 2011 selections by the Yankees.
“I’m really happy to get another chance up there,” said Tracy, who will attend the Eastern League All-Star Game but not pitch in it. “I felt I threw the ball well in the short time I was up there before.
“Really there are talented hitters in both Double-A and Triple-A, the only difference is some of the Triple-A guys have more of a plan at the plate, which means I have to have more of a plan as well.
Tracy has come a long way since he pitched for the Staten Island Yankees in 2011. The Yankees reworked his mechanics, which upped his fastball velocity and helped turn his curve into a legitimate plus pitch.
“You always have to keep working to get better,” said Tracy, who has drawn comparisons to Andy Pettitte by some since his 12-6 curve thrown from the left side is a money pitch.
Franklin, who told Bryan Mitchell he was headed to the Yankees the other night, after receiving the message in the second innings, said one of the best parts of his job is telling players they are advancing.
“It’s fun, and it’s really great to watch what is going on in our system right now. We are getting younger at Triple-A and we'[re developing talent. I really enjoy moving our guys along.”
Webb, who picked up a trio of saves in his last 10 outings, made 23 appearances in Trenton. The fastball velocity, topping out about 95, helped the 24-year-old who pitched at South Carolina to record a 51-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35.2 innings.
Scranton will be a good test for him as he hones his consistency.
Webb, who also was selected to the Eastern League All-Star Game, will likely pitch in Wednesday’s contest before reporting to the RailRiders.