The Washington Wild Things announced the re-signing of their third 2017 Frontier League All Star as right-handed pitcher Zach Strecker will return to Washington in 2018. Strecker joins catcher Kyle Pollock and RHP Chase Cunningham as all stars to return to the team for next season, and is the seventh player overall to re-sign.
“Zach was an absolute workhorse for us last season and accepted the role as one of our core players. He has the perfect demeanor on the mound with the game on the line,” said general manager Steven Zavacky. “We appreciate his efforts to battle through some nagging ailments down the stretch solely to push this team to the playoffs. Competing is what he loves to do and I know he is focused on a championship season. We discussed exploring Zach’s versatility in 2018, so it will be interesting to see how his role gets defined.”
Strecker, a 2016 graduate of the University of Kentucky where he posted a 3.19 earned run average in 96 innings over four seasons, is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. The 24-year old was signed by the Minnesota Twins as an undrafted free agent in June of 2016. He’d go on to played at the rookie-ball level for the GCL Twins. He threw 33 innings and struck out 21 while allowing 12 earned runs.
Following his release from the Twins organization, Strecker was added by the Wild Things, where in 2017, the right-hander posted a 5-5 record with a 2.34 ERA in 61.2 innings, which was the fifth highest total on the team in 2017, and the highest total Strecker has pitched in a season since matriculating to college. His high at Kentucky was 30.1, while he pitched two seasons in summer collegiate leagues, where he threw 50.2 and 57 innings as a starter for the Valley Blue Sox and the Willmar Stingers, respectively.
The former Wildcat nailed down 20 saves for the Wild Things and struck out 40 batters to just 17 walks. He pitched a scoreless 8th inning in the Frontier League All Star Game in Joliet. His 20 saves were the third most in the league last season behind only Windy City’s Brian Loconsole (27) and Southern Illinois’ John Werner (22), who were both FL All Stars. His 43 appearances were the fourth most in the Frontier League in 2017.
“[Last year] was a fun year for the team and individually [for me],” said Strecker. “I feel that both had some ups and downs but that’s baseball and it’s a long season. As a team, we didn’t let the low points of the season keep us off track of what our ultimate goal was, although we came up short of winning [a championship]. As an individual, the 2017 season was by far my favorite I can think of and I attribute it to being able to relax and have fun on the mound.”
Strecker went on to say how excited he was to be returning to the Wild Things, citing the “good core” of players returning to the team, and emphasized he is sure the team will find a way to compete and “have fun doing it.” He also said he was very happy with the overall experience he had in Washington.
“Washington was a one-of-a-kind experience that I’ll always cherish,” said Strecker. “I was given another chance of playing baseball and there were a lot of personal and team successes that have formed memories for a lifetime. The main difference between Washington and playing in affiliated ball is the looseness and ability to relax and have fun. I lost sight of baseball being the game I grew up loving to play as a kid and the Wild Things allowed me to go back to who I was.”
With a laugh he added, “also we weren’t fined for ordering pizza.”
In terms of expectations for the 2018 season from both a team and personal standpoint, Strecker said he expects the team to compete for a championship in 2018, saying he thought his team was the “best team in the league top to bottom” in 2017. He also wants to build off a strong 2017 season on the mound.
“[I want to] contribute even more to the team, whether it’s on the mound or keeping guys loose and having fun to where they can perform at their highest ability as well,” said Strecker. “We’ve talked about the thoughts of me being a starter next season, which I’m all for. I also wouldn’t mind being the closer again. Getting the last out of games and slamming the door in your opponents face is always a fun way to end a game; dilly, dilly.”