Saints Starter and Chaska Native John Straka Has Contract Purchased By Blue Jays, Head To High-A DunedinST. PAUL, MN August 12, 2016
The deeper the season has gone, the better St. Paul Saints starter John Straka has been and Major League organizations have taken notice. The Toronto Blue Jays saw enough talent in the Chaska native that they purchased his contract and will send him to High-A Dunedin.
The 26-year-old Straka is 10-3 with a 4.48 ERA in 17 games (16 starts). In 94.1 innings pitched he has walked just 22 and struck out 77 while opponents are hitting .281 against him. Over his last four appearances, which have included a rain shortened start and a 1.0 inning relief appearance on Thursday, he has allowed just one run in his last 18.0 innings of work.
Straka is currently tied for second in the league in wins and fifth in games started. In his last start 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 against Fargo-Moorhead at CHS Field he struck out a season high 11. He’s gone at least six innings nine times and allowed three or fewer earned runs eight times.
“I am really happy for John,” said Saints manager George Tsamis. “He has won many games in the last two years and his stuff is as good as anyone in this league. We all wish him the best of luck.”
Straka came over in a trade with the Sioux City Explorers on May 16 and was 11-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 20 starts last season 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. 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.
Straka becomes the 119th contract sold, which includes 113 total players including six who had their contract sold twice. Of the 119 contracts sold eight were sold to international teams and a total of 21 have made it to the ultimate level of baseball following their time with the Saints (Julio DePaula, who played for the Saints in 2011, made it to the Major Leagues in 2014, never pitched in a game, but does not show up on the list below because his contract wasn’t purchased directly from the Saints).