By Jerry Del Priore
In a little over a week, to fill much-needed roster spots, the St. Paul Saints of the independent American Assocation inked outfielder Jake Smith and righty pitcher John Straka.
On Sunday afternoon, both players rewarded their new club with impressive performances, helping to propel St. Paul past the Chicago Dogs, 7-1, at Impact Field.
Smith went 3-5 with a double, two RBI, and two runs scored. Straka was effective on the bump, tossing 5.0 innings and allowing one run on four hits while walking four and striking out one.
Outfielder Kes Carter launched a three-run dinger to left, his fourth of the season, to give the Saints a 6-1 lead in the top of the sixth.
St, Paul’s bullpen was strong once again as Mike Devine, Jake Matthys, and Ken Frosch threw 4.0 hitless, shutout frames of relief.
Smith, who the Saints inked on June 8th, played for the University of St. Thomas, where he hit .310 with a home run, 17 RBI, nine doubles, two triples, scored 24 runs, and was a perfect 7-7 in stolen bases. He also posted a .389 on base percentage and had a .437 slugging percentage in 126 at-bats in 38 games. The 22-year-old finished his college career strong, hitting safely in the final seven games, and had 12 multi-hit games.
Straka, who St. Paul signed right before the contest, spent the 2017 campaign with the Saints before the Toronto Blue Jays purchased his contact. The 28-year-old hurler started at Double-A New Hampshire, where he was 1-2 with a complete game and an 8.18 ERA in three tilts (two starts) before the Blue Jays assigned him to High-A Dunedin on July 25. He returned to form going 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts.