Courtesy St. Paul Saints Media Relations
One of the most dominant set-up men in the league, St. Paul’s Mike Zouzalik, has been named the American Association Rookie of the Year, as voted upon by managers and members of the media.
An instrumental piece of the back end of the Saints bullpen, Zouzalik posted a 4-1 record with a 2.06 ERA, the lowest of any Saints pitcher this season, and three saves in 39 relief appearances. In 48.0 innings pitched he struck out 49 and opponents hit a miniscule .140 against him.
Zouzalik did not allow a run in his last five appearances and previously did not allow a run while giving up just one hit in six straight appearances from August 8-August 20 over 9.2 innings pitched. The 25 year old righthander logged scoreless outings in 32 of his 39 appearances this season and posted perfect outings in relief, allowing neither runs nor hits, in 22 of his 39 trips to the mound.
Zouzalik was acquired by the Saints this offseason in a trade with Wichita after winning an American Association championship with the Wingnuts last season. Zouzalik posted a 4-0 record with a 3.06 ERA in 47 appearances a season ago with a Wichita team that set a then-American Association record with 73 wins in a season, surpassed by both St. Paul and the Sioux City Explorers this season with their 74- and 75-win marks, respectively.
For Zouzalik, it is the first postseason honors he has received in his brief professional career. Previously a farmhand in the Texas Rangers organization, Zouzalik signed as an amateur free agent with his hometown club after reporting to an open tryout in 2013 after finishing his collegiate career at the University of Texas- Pan American. Zouzalik spent one season in the Rangers system, posting an impressive 4-0 record with a 2.41 ERA in 23 appearances across Low-A Spokane and High-A Myrtle Beach. He struck out 27 while walking 14 in 33.2 innings of work.
Zouzalik joins Vinny DiFazio and Angelo Songco as members of the Saints receiving postseason honors after the Saints catcher and first baseman were named to the Post-Season All-Star squad on September 7. Zouzalik is just the second player in Saints history to be named the American Association Rookie of the Year with RHP Robert Coe receiving the Rookie of the Year nod in 2012.
American Association Rookies of the Year
2015: RHP Mike Zouzalik, St. Paul
2014: RHP Jeremy Strawn, Laredo
2013: OF/1B Joe Weik, Amarillo
2012: RHP Robert Coe, St. Paul
2011: 2B Price Kendall, Winnipeg