Saints Get Strong(er) On The Hill With Signing Of Stillwater High ProductST. PAUL, MN July 6, 2016
Make it seven players that once played in the Minnesota Twins system. The St. Paul Saints, looking to bolster their pitching, were able to sign left-hander Mike Strong, who most recently pitched in the Twins system this season and is a graduate of Stillwater High School.
The 25-year-old Strong was pitching at Double-A Chattanooga this season and went 0-3 with an 8.66 ERA and two saves in 16 relief appearances. In 17.2 innings pitched he walked 13 and struck out 10 while opponents hit .314 against him.
Strong was drafted on three separate occasions: in the 25th round in 2009 by the Chicago White Sox out of Iowa Western CC, 2010 in the 22nd round by the Oakland Athletics out of Oklahoma State and finally signed in 2011 when he was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round out of Oklahoma State.
After a 6.10 ERA in the Pioneer League in his first professional season, Strong’s next three seasons were impressive. In 2012 and 2013 he pitched for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Single-A in the Midwest League. In 2012 he went 1-1 with a 2.76 ERA and three saves in 21 relief appearances. In 42.1 innings pitched he walked 26 and struck out 60 while opponents hit a miniscule .195 against him. The following season Strong was 3-4 with a 3.31 ERA and two saves in 25 games (eight starts). In 87.0 innings pitched he walked 45 and struck out 98 while opponents hit .236 against him. He was 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 17 starts and 1-3 with a 4.06 ERA in eight starts.
Strong was impressive once again the following year excelling at High-A Brevard County going 2-2 with a 2.50 ERA and four saves in 30 games (six starts). He once again had more strike outs than innings pitched, fanning 78 in 75.2 IP while opponents hit just .207 against him. He was 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA as a reliever and 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA as a starter. He was promoted to Double-A Huntsville where he pitched 4.0 hitless, shutout innings of relief in his lone appearance.
In his final year with the Brewers organization, in 2015, he was invited to Major League Spring Training and was assigned to Double-A Biloxi after spring training was over. He was stellar going 4-1with a 2.54 ERA and five saves in 38 relief appearances. He struck out 61 in 66.0 innings and opponents hit .191 against him. He was promoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs, and in a predominately offensive league, went 1-1 with a 7.16 ERA in 12 games (one start).
Strong was claimed off of waivers by the Miami Marlins o n December 7, 2015 and then claimed off waivers by the Twins from the Marlins on January 22, 2016.
Strong was a standout star at Stillwater High School where he had the opportunity to break Glen Perkins school record for lowest ERA in a season of 0.57. Going into a sectional playoff game that Strong pitched the record was within his grasp. The game was scoreless heading into the sixth, but White Bear scored five in the sixth and Strong finished with an ERA during his senior season of 1.03.
In order to make room on the roster for strong the Saints placed pitcher Robert Coe on the disabled list and have also released relief pitcher Zac Westcott.
The Saints currently have the league 22 players on the roster, one shy of the league maximum, 10 pitchers and 12 position players.