Smokies Struck and Watkins honored by Cubs

KODAK, Tenn. (Smokies Release) – Tennessee Smokies INF Logan Watkins and RHP Nick Struck were named by the Chicago Cubs this afternoon as the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. The duo will be honored at Wrigley Field during an on-field ceremony prior to the Cubs’ October 1 game against the Houston Astros.

Watkins hit .281 (137-for-488) with 20 doubles, 11 triples, nine home runs and 52 RBIs in 133 games for the Smokies in 2012. He led the Southern League with 93 runs scored, was second with triples and walks (76) and was fourth with a .383 on-base percentage. The left-handed hitter led the Smokies with 28 stolen bases (28 SB/35 ATT).

The 23-year-old recorded a .985 fielding percentage (9 E/235 TC), spending time at second base (95 games), shortstop (29 games) and center field (17 games).

Watkins hit .352 (31-for-88) in the month of June in which included a team-high 13-game hitting streak on way to earning Cubs Minor League Player of the Month honors.

The Wichita, Kan. native was drafted by the Cubs in the 21st round of the 2008 MLB draft out of Goddard (Kan.) High School. In five professional seasons, Watkins holds a career .285 batting average (493-for-1,728) with 67 doubles, 31 triples, 15 home runs and 170 RBIs in 475 minor league games.

Struck, went 14-10 with a 3.18 ERA (55 ER/155.2 IP) in 28 games (26 starts) this year for Tennessee. He led the Southern League in wins, ranked third with 155.2 innings pitched and fourth in ERA. He led the Smokies with 123 strikeouts and limited opposing hitters to a .238 batting average (140 H/588 AB).

The right-handed pitcher emerged as the Smokies’ ace in 2012, limiting opponents to three or fewer runs in 20 of his 28 appearances (26 starts).

Struck, 22, was 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA (8 ER/29.1 IP) in five starts in the month of June en route to being named the Cubs Pitcher of the Month for June. In 29.1 innings, he allowed 11 runs (eight earned) on 19 hits, walking eight and striking out 23. Struck led the Smokies to wins four consecutive starts from June 8-26, constructing a 1.90 ERA (5 ER/23.2 IP) during the run.

The Damascus, Ore. native was selected in the 39th round of the 2009 MLB draft out of Mt. Hood Community College. In three professional seasons, Stuck is 32-27 with a 3.50 ERA (168 ER/431.2 IP) and two complete-game shutouts, including a rain-shortened five-inning no-hitter for the Peoria Chiefs on April 30, 2010. In 84 appearances (73 starts) he has fanned 330 batters, while walking 134 in 431.2 innings pitched.

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