Saints Pull Off Trade For Starting Pitcher John Strak(KKKKK)AST. PAUL, MN May 16, 2016
The St. Paul Saints pulled off a major trade just days before the 2016 season is set to begin. Needing another starter, manager George Tsamis worked out a deal with the Sioux City Explorers for local product, Chaska High star, John Straka, who was in the top five in strikeouts in the American Association last year. The Saints sent the reversionary rights to Brett Harper, who is currently playing in Mexico, to the Explorers.
The 26-year-old Straka was 11-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 20 starts last season for the runner-up Explorers. In 129.1 innings pitched he walked just 36, struck out 110 while opponents hit .247 against him. He finished fifth in the league in strikeouts and fanned at least six in 10 of his 20 starts including double digits twice. He struck out 11 on July 4 vs. Sioux Falls and in his last start of the season he tossed 7.0 innings allowing two unearned runs on one hit while striking out 12 Grand Prairie AirHogs. He went at least 6.0 innings in 14 of 20 starts and at least 7.0 innings in 11 of 20 starts. He threw 15 quality starts, defined as throwing at least 6.0 innings and giving up three runs or fewer. One of his best starts came on July 29 at Lincoln when he tossed 8.0 shutout innings allowing three hits while walking two and striking out nine.
Straka was a 32nd round draft pick by the Texas Rangers in 2013 out of North Dakota State University. He pitched one season for the Rangers organization spending 2013 with the Spokane Indians of the Northwest League. As a reliever he went 2-2 with a 4.88 ERA and two saves in 19 relief appearances. He finished fourth in the league in fewest walks per nine innings, walking only six in 31.1 innings pitched.
After being released by the Rangers he was signed by the Explorers for the 2014 season where he went 9-5 with a 4.14 ERA in 21 starts including two complete games. In 130.1 innings pitched he walked 38 and struck out 90 while opponents hit .304 against him.
Straka went to Chaska High School where he was a three-year All-Conference pitcher and catcher. He was an All-State selection his senior season when he struck out 71 in 65.0 innings and had a miniscule 1.29 ERA. He was also a two-year starting quarterback and passed for 1,592 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 679 yards and eight touchdowns in an All-Conference senior season.
The Saints currently have 21 signed players, three non-roster invitees, 11 pitchers and 13 position players.
The 2016 season begins on Thursday, May 19 at CHS Field with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats.