2016 Draft Class Update—Michael Rucker, RHP
While some of the pitchers drafted ahead of him by the Cubs drew more attention, I’m looking forward to what the 2017 season has in store for the 11th round pick. Every year the Cubs draft a college arm, he throws a few innings after the draft, and spends the next year opening eyes in the Midwest League. It was Ryan Williams and Jeremy Null two years ago while Casey Bloomquist and Kyle Miller threw the ball well last year in South Bend. Look for Rucker to follow suit. Brigham Young’s Friday night starter, the junior went 11-1 and earned third-team All-American honors while posting a team-best 2.73 ERA, 94 K and 102.1 innings. After beginning his college career in Gonzaga, Rucker sat out the 2014 season and started his career in the bullpen at BYU, recording six saves in 2015 before moving to the rotation at the end of the season. Rucker didn’t sign with the Cubs until mid-July and made his pro debut in early August in the Arizona Rookie League. After five relief appearances (8.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB 11 K), Rucker was on his way to Eugene and was part of the Ems title playoff roster. He only appeared in two game for Eugene in the regular season, tossing two innings both times while allowing five hits and an unearned run. He fanned a career-high five hitters in a Sept. 1 appearance, throwing 18 pitches, all strikes. In the playoffs, Rucker finally gave up an earned run and it cost the Eugene a win as the right-hander took the loss against Hillsboro in the NWL semi-finals. In the championship series, the 22-year-old tossed three no-hit innings in Game 1 and earned the win as the Ems beat Everett 3-1. Rucker’s fastball sits 92-96, part of his four-pitch arsenal, and at BYU was considered a ground ball artist with the ability to get big outs when needed. Not the first time the Cubs have gone to the BYU campus for a pick, selecting OF Jacob Hannemann in the third round in 2013.
Venezuelan Winter League
In a wild card game for the final playoff spot, La Guaira beat Aragua 4-2. SS Carlos Penalver went 1-for-3 with a run scored for Aragua. La Guaira will face Lara in one semi-final matchup while Zulia squares off against Caribes.
Dominican Winter League
Aguilas improved to 10-2 with a 6-0 win over Licey (5-7). Former Cubs pitching prospect Ivan Pineyro got the start for Licey and allowed four runs (one earned) in 3.2 frames......Escogido (5-8) won its second straight with a 4-2 win over Gigantes (4-7). 3B Chesny Young (.304) was 0-for-3 with a RBI in the win for Escogido.
Mexican Pacific Winter League
The best-of-seven semi-finals began on Wednesday. Los Mochis blanked Culiacan 5-0 while Mexicalli scored six times in the bottom of the eighth to rally past Hermosillo 8-7.
Puerto Rican Winter League
Caguas advanced to the final and will face Santurce after a 1-0 win over Mayaguez to take the series 4-2. RH Miguel Mejia earned his second hold of the series with a 1-2-3 eighth. C Carlos Corporan went 0-for-3 in the loss.