Getting to CHS Field

Saints Sign Old Friend, John Straka, To Bolster Starting Rotation

ST. PAUL, MN June 17, 2018

John Straka can appreciate having a contract purchased directly from the St. Paul Saints.  For the past two seasons the Toronto Blue Jays saw his value when he was pitching for the Saints and purchased his contract.  With Vinny Nittoli signing in Mexico the Saints had a void in their starting rotation and Straka, who went to Spring Training with the Saints, will fill that hole and start on Sunday against the Chicago Dogs at Impact Field.


The 28-year-old Straka began the 2017 season with the St. Paul Saints and went 3-4 with a 6.02 ERA in 10 starts.  In 55.1 innings pitched he walked 21 and struck out 37 while opponents hit .319 against him.  He had his contract purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays organization, for the second straight season, on July 10 and started at Double-A New Hampshire.  Straka was 1-2 with a complete game and an 8.18 ERA in three games (two starts) before being assigned to High-A Dunedin on July 25.  He returned to form going 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts. 


          With about three weeks left in the 2016 season the Blue Jays purchased Straka’s contract from the Saints and he spent the remainder of the season at New Hampshire.  While with the Fisher Cats he pitched well going 4-1 with a 4.68 ERA in five games (four starts).  In 25.0 innings pitched he walked just eight, struck out 22 and opponents hit .258 against him.  Over his final three appearances he allowed just two runs in 17.1 innings pitched including 5.1 shutout innings in a start on August 26 at Reading and 6.0 shutout innings of relief on September 5 vs. Portland.


          With the Saints in 2016 Straka was 10-3 with a 4.48 ERA in 17 games (16 starts).  In 94.1 innings pitched he walked just 22 and struck out 77 while opponents hit .281 against him.  Over his last four appearances he allowed just one run in 18.0 innings of work. 


          Straka finished with the third best winning percentage in the American Association, .769.  In his last start with the Saints, on August 8, he hurled 7.0 innings allowing one run against the Gary SouthShore Railcats.  His finest outing of the season came on July 31 at Lincoln when he tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing just two hits while striking out seven.  On July 17 at CHS Field against Fargo-Moorhead Straka struck out a season high 11.  He went at least six innings nine times and allowed three or fewer earned runs eight times.


          Straka came over in a trade with the Sioux City Explorers on May 16, 2016 and was 11-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 20 starts in 2015 for the league 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 runs  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 roster now stands at 22, with two players on the disabled list, one shy of the league maximum.