This is a continuation of the weekly series of of writing about a Cubs prospect. Early on, I will be writing about guys that Dave and I did not cover in our Prospect Ratings. Links for past ratings and past profiles at at the end.
Who is Nick Struck?
Nick Struck was drafted in the 39th round of the 2009 Draft out of Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon. He's 1 of 44 players who have been drafted out of that school. Only 4 of them have reached the big leagues and only Dave Veres has produced more than 0.0 rWAR. Veres was with the Cubs in 2003 and then he retired. Taylor Ard is the most recent draft pick to be signed who attended MHCC, but he had later attended a 4-year university.
He attended high school in Clackamas, Oregon and Baseball Reference lists him at 6-0, 205 pounds. He was scouted by Al Geddes and signed with the Cubs for $125,000.
Where is he?
Struck is in AAA Iowa and is one of the team's starting pitcher's this season. The Cubs are already 7-deep into their big league rotation with Matt Garza and Scott Baker out. It's likely that someone like Chris Rusin or Brooks Raley would get the call up before he did if the Cubs needed him, so a lot of things are going to have to go wrong for the Cubs for him to get his shot this year.
Is he any good?
The Cubs 2012 Minor League pitcher of the year is usually an afterthought when it comes to prospect lists. In this organization, that's not good. The Cubs sure have gotten better on the position player side of things in the minor leagues, but the pitching, if anything, has taken even more of a hit. If you're going to have a number of legitimate prospects and you get to choose if they're position players or pitchers, I'll take position player every time. Still, this organization's pitching is as weak as it gets.
Their closest pitching pitching prospect they have is Ben Wells and he's seen by scouts as someone who could be a middle of the the rotation starter if things work out. After him is Pierce Johnson and his ceiling isn't nearly as high as we might like.
This ignores Arodys Vizcaino who might or might not be a starting pitcher, might or might not be healthy anytime soon and might or might not have the ability to stay healthy. The same could probably be said for Wells and Johnson seeing as both have already had some arm issues.
Then there's a few guys who haven't even started their 2013 seasons yet and are years away from the big leagues.
There sits Nick Struck in Iowa. Being a minor league pitcher of the year in the Cubs organization right now is like winning a tallest midget contest, but it's still an achievement that has been overlooked. Struck didn't impress anyone in high school or at Mt. Hood Community College (jc) in Oregon. His high 80s to low 90s fastball won't impress many hitters. His size isn't impressive (6-0, 205).
He won't be a strikeout pitcher. He does have better than average command. He's made changes quickly in order to adjust. Last season he got off to a bad start, worked with his coaches and shortened his stride and then showed very good results.
This isn't to say there's nothing to like about Struck. He's been healthy. He hasn't missed a start since he turned professional and there's something to be said about that. He's taken the ball every 5th or 6th day and slowly moved up the system without so much as skipping a start.
Last year in AA he did strikeout 19% of the batters faced and walked only 6%. That's a pretty good K-BB%. Based on his career as a whole, I don't think we can expect him to strike that many out, but he does throw strikes so even if he's at 15-16% it could still be good enough.
OV Prospect Rating
Struck's potential is as a back of the rotation starter. He's already at AAA so his floor is going to be pretty close to his ceiling at this point. Considering the back of the rotation (4th or 5th starter), the ceiling be under a 5.
He hasn't yet proven he's a quad-A talent so he can still drop below a 3.
This would put him at the end of the now 23 prospects we've done so far with 35 points.