Results tagged ‘ Nick Struck ’

Mesa splits weekend matchups

Mesa finally snapped its long losing streak Friday, taking down Scottsdale 8-4 in comeback fashion, but lost again Saturday to bring their record to 4-12.

Trailing 4-1 on Friday, Mesa scored seven runs after the fifth inning and cruised to the win.

Javier Baez started the comeback in the sixth with a two-run single, scoring Aaron Westlake and Jonathan Schoop. With the next batter—Cubs utilityman Rubi Silva—at the plate, Gorman Erickson stole home while Baez swiped second. Silva would later walk. Baez was 1-for-5. Silva finished 1-for-3 with a single and the aforementioned walk.

Matt Szczur entered the game in the bottom of the seventh and popped out to the shortstop in the eighth in his only at-bat of the day.

Cubs pitchers held down the fort late in the game. Kevin Rhoderick pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out two, and Tony Zych allowed one hit and no runs in the ninth.

Though the Solar Sox dropped their Saturday game to Salt River 12-6—and were down 4-0 before they even got an at-bat—there were a few impressive Cubs performances.

In the bottom of the third, Matt Szczur ripped a triple to right. He was driven in two batters later on a Nick Castellanos sacrifice fly. In his next at-bat in the fifth, Szczur singled to right. Bobby Borchering hit a homer to score the pair a batter later. Szczur walked in the eighth but was caught stealing second to end the inning.

Baez was 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts before being replaced in the sixth inning by Silva, who went 0-for-3.

Nick Struck pitched the sixth inning for Mesa, allowing one run on one hit and two walks.

Mesa heads to Surprise Monday with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time. Cubs prospect Dae-Eun Rhee will start for the Solar Sox.

How the Cubs have fared:

Bullpen falters in Mesa loss

Mesa held a two-run lead heading into the ninth, but Cubs farmhand Kevin Rhoderick couldn’t close the door as the Solar Sox fell 4-3 Wednesday afternoon.

Rhoderick, a right-hander who had a 1.59 ERA in 5.2 fall innings prior to Wednesday’s game, surrendered a walk to the second batter he faced. A single put men on first and second before Chris Dominguez ripped a homer to left. Rhoderick retired the next two batters in order, but the damage was done.

Cubs righty and minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck also got a chance to pitch, giving up no hits, no walks and striking out three over two scoreless innings.

Matt Szczur led off the fifth inning with a single and scored on a Rafael Ynoa triple to center. He finished the day 1-for-4 with a walk.

Rubi Silva also recorded a hit—a single in the sixth—in four at-bats.

Mesa hosts Peoria Thursday with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.

How the Cubs have fared:

Late rally not enough for Solar Sox

Mesa scored three runs in the ninth to force extra innings, but Salt River’s Andy Wilkins hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th, prolonging the Solar Sox’s seven-game losing streak. Cubs prospects were heavily involved in the comeback, however.

Cubs shortstop Javier Baez kicked off the ninth with a single up the middle. He advanced to second on a passed ball, and then to third on a wild pitch. He would score two batters later on a two-RBI single by Brian Ward. Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur drove in pinch-hitter Joc Pederson from second on a single to left.

Szczur finished the day 2-for-5 with an RBI and two stolen bases. Baez went 1-for-5 and committed his seventh error of the fall league. Rubi Silva was also in the lineup. He went 0-for-4 with a walk.

Nick Struck lowered his ERA with a scoreless seventh inning, giving up just one hit. Kevin Rhoderick came in in the eighth and struck out two, allowing no runs, no hits and one walk.

Mesa heads to Phoenix Tuesday with first pitch scheduled for 12:35. Cubs arm Dae-Eun Rhee is expected to start.

How the Cubs have fared:

Early deficits too much for Solar Sox to overcome

Mesa’s struggles continued this weekend, though it wasn’t for a lack of offense. On Friday the Solar Sox were on the losing end of a 10-6 decision to Phoenix and followed that up Saturday with a 16-10 loss to Surprise.

In Friday’s contest, Rubi Silva entered the game in the sixth, and tripled to center in the eighth, scoring Gorman Erickson from second. He was ejected from the game in the ninth inning.

Matt Szczur went 0-for-5 while Baez was 0-for-4.

Nick Struck pitched 2/3 an inning, surrendering three earned runs on two hits and three walks. Kevin Rhoderick pitched a scoreless eighth inning, allowing one hit.

The Mesa bats came alive on Saturday, and despite Baez’s big day offensively, it wasn’t enough. Baez would reach on an error in the third and later score on a Rafael Ynoa single. In the top of the eighth, he hit his third home run of the season, a three-run shot to center field, scoring L.J. Hoes and Jonathan Singleton. Baez did commit two errors defensively however.

Szczur was solid at the plate Saturday also. He forced a bases-loaded walk in the second inning, and would later score on a Hoes ground out. He also drew another walk in the third. In the fifth he scored Jiovanni Mier on a single up the middle.

Tony Zych surrendered his first earned run of the season in the ninth, but also struck out a batter.

Mesa will take on Salt River Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 local time.

How the Cubs have fared:

Pitchers, Baez solid in Solar Sox loss

The Solar Sox were on the losing end of a 4-2 decision to Peoria Tuesday afternoon. But the Cubs organization can take solace in the pitching efforts of their farmhands, as well as Javier Baez’s work at the plate.

Baez was the lone Cub to record a hit for Mesa, finishing the day 2-for-4. He singled in the second inning, drove in a run on an RBI ground out in the sixth and singled to right field in the ninth. Matt Szczur and Rubi Silva both went 0-for-4. Silva struck out twice.

Kevin Rhoderick pitched a scoreless fifth inning, striking out two and allowing one hit. Nick Struck pitched a hitless ninth.

Mesa heads to Scottsdale Wednesday night to take on the Scorpions, a team comprised of prospects from the Angels, Giants, Indians, Pirates and Yankees. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 local time, and Cubs farmhand Dae-Eun Rhee is projected to start for the Solar Sox.

How the Cubs have fared:

For stats on the entire Mesa squad, check out’s Arizona Fall League page.

Cubs bats come alive in AFL victories

The weekend’s games were full of offense for the Mesa Solar Sox, who captured a 12-6 win over Surprise to kick off the weekend on Friday and an 8-3 decision on Saturday vs. Phoenix. And much of the teams’ offense came from the bats of the Cubs’ farmhands.

Matt Szczur and Rubi Silva saw action in the first game. Szczur went 2-for-5 with two hits and a pair of stolen bases. He also drove in an insurance run on a single in the seventh inning. Silva recorded a single in his first at-bat and stole second. He’d finish 1-for-5 with a run scored.

Kevin Rhoderick pitched the fourth inning for Mesa. He surrendered a home run to the leadoff hitter, and then fanned a pair of batters before recording a ground out.

Silva and Javier Baez were inserted into Saturday’s lineup. Silva led off for the Solar Sox and kick-started the game with a single to center. A Jonathan Singleton home run drove him in three batters later. In the fifth, he singled again, and was driven in on another home run, this time by Baez. He’d finish 2-for-5.

Baez only had one hit Saturday, but it was the aforementioned three-run shot that drove in the game-winning runs.

Nick Struck entered the game in the fourth inning. After striking out his first two batters, he surrendered a home run to right. The next hitter grounded out to short. Tony Zych closed out the game with a scoreless ninth, surrendering one hit.

After the first week of play, Baez leads the league in RBI with seven.

On Monday, the Solar Sox host Peoria, a squad comprised of prospects from the Mariners, Phillies, Padres, Reds and Twins. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 local time.

For stats on the entire Mesa squad, check out’s Arizona Fall League page.

Mesa Solar Sox fall in home opener

It wasn’t the strongest game for Cubs prospects Wednesday afternoon as the Mesa Solar Sox dropped an 11-3 decision to Salt River. Matt Szczur led off the bottom of the first with a single into left field. After advancing to second on a walk, he swiped third for his first stolen base of the fall. He was left stranded and finished the day 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.

Rubi Silva batted second and recorded his only hit of the day on a soft grounder to the first baseman. He advanced to second on an error.

Cubs’ top prospect Javier Baez struggled Wednesday. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and left two on base. He also slid over from shortstop to third base, where he committed a pair of errors.

Cubs minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck walked three in relief duty but didn’t allow a run in 1.1 innings pitched. He also struck out one batter.

The Solar Sox head to Surprise today to take on the Saguaros at 12:35 local time. Surprise is comprised of prospects from the Cardinals, Mets, Rangers, Red Sox and Royals. Cubs farmhand Dae-Eun Rhee is projected to start for Mesa.

Prepping for the Arizona Fall League

The month-long Arizona Fall League kicks off tomorrow night, pitting some of minor league baseball’s top young talent against each other through Nov. 15. Seven members of the Cubs organization will take part in the league with the Mesa Solar Sox. When the teams were announced in late August, Vine Line broke down the Cubs representatives. The Solar Sox will also include prospects from the Astros, Dodgers, Orioles and Tigers. Below is a list of the pitchers and position players, as well as how they fared during the 2012 season.

Pitchers: Astros prospect Jarred Cosart is the most highly touted arm on Mesa’s staff. Ranked the 76th-best prospect in baseball by, the 38th-round draft pick has a fastball that can reach the high-90s with a solid curve and the beginnings of a great change-up. Fellow Houston farmhand Nick Tropeano had a solid 2012, posting a 3.02 ERA over 158 innings. The righty features a plus change-up, complemented by a nice fastball and slider. Orioles lefty Mike Belfiore made the transition to the bullpen in 2011, maximizing his strong fastball/change-up combination. The lone arm to see the majors this year was Tigers righty Luke Putkonen, who is from the Chicago suburb of Winfield. The 6-6, 210-pounder pitched in 12 games out of the Detroit bullpen, striking out 10 in 16 innings and posting a 3.94 ERA.

Catchers: Tigers farmhand James McCann headlines the trio of catchers playing for Mesa. A solid leader, McCann recorded 22 doubles this season and has a decent arm. He also recorded five stolen bases, which is nothing to scoff at for a catcher.

Infielders: The strength of the Solar Sox comes from the infield corps, which includes top Cubs prospect Javier Baez. It will be interesting to see where Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos sees time. With Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera locked in at third for the Tigers, the top third base prospect in baseball saw a lot of time in the outfield this season. Astros first baseman John Singleton is a smooth-swinging lefty who hits for average and power, as evidenced by his 21 homers and 27 doubles in 2012. Singleton, seen as baseball’s top first base prospect, also has a solid glove.

Outfielders: There will be a lot of eyes on Dodgers prospect Yasiel Puig this fall. In June, the Dodgers front office paid $42 million over seven years for the 21-year-old Cuban defector. Known for his raw power, Puig often draws comparisons to Cubs prospect Jorge Soler. Free-swinging Astros prospect George Springer still managed to hit .302 and draw 62 walks in 2012, while hitting 24 home runs and driving in 87. The five-tool prospect also stole 32 bases.

Farm Report Wrap-Up: Keep an eye out for some sleepers on Smokies roster

Tennessee Smokies infielder Logan Watkins was named the organization’s 2012 Minor League Player of the Year. (Photo by Rodger Wood)

Today we continue our tour around the Cubs farm system, taking a level-by-level look at performances the organization hopes to build on in 2013. The Double-A Tennessee Smokies are next in the spotlight.

For all the talent we’ve written about in the lower levels of the Cubs system, it was the Tennessee Smokies who featured two full seasons from the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.

Two nights ago, infielder Logan Watkins and right-hander Nick Struck were honored by Jason McLeod and farm director Brandon Hyde in a pre-game ceremony at Wrigley Field. Watkins was a 21st-round pick out of high school in the 2008 draft, and he’s shown a consistent ability to get on base throughout his minor league career. This year, he hit for a .281/.383/.422 slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) and collected 76 walks in 588 plate appearances. His 13 percent walk rate was three percentage points higher than his already lofty career standards, and his slugging percentage was nearly 50 points higher despite having roughly the same batting average. In other words, it was a career year.

Of course, Watkins’ skill set is broader than just patience. He has versatility in the field—spotting at shortstop and center field in addition to second base—and the speed to rack up double-digit triples and stolen bases. He bats left-handed too. A 23-year-old sleeper to track as he likely moves to Iowa next year.

Struck also is turning out to be a late-round sleeper. A 2009 39th-round pick out of an Oregon community college, Struck emerged as the Smokies’ ace a season after he split time between three levels (A, AA and AAA). His 155 innings led the team, and he finished with a 3.18 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Just as importantly, his hits and walks allowed ticked down from a year ago, while his strikeouts climbed to just over seven per nine innings.

Struck isn’t a high-ceiling type—in other words, someone with a high-90s fastball or a wipeout breaking ball—but he’s succeeded with poise, pitch ability and a versatile four-pitch mix. He turns 23 this month and also is likely to wind up in Iowa next season.

Final Records:

First Half / 35-35, tie-second place, 7.0 GB

Second Half / 37-33, tie-second place, 4.0 GB

Storylines: This is a team that the Cubs front office hopes will develop some future contributors in Chicago. Matt Szczur struggled in his first taste of Double-A, but he has the toolset to hit for average and use his speed on the basepaths and in the outfield alongside Brett Jackson. Right-hander Trey McNutt has had mixed success since his breakout campaign two years ago, but this summer, the Cubs found a new home for his plus fastball and power breaking ball in the bullpen. Shortstop Junior Lake also is smoothing out rough edges, but he has a ceiling that few prospects in the higher levels can match. Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha deserves special mention after a successful all-around campaign including a home run in the Futures Game.