Michael Rucker's third straight scoreless outing helped him earn his second straight award.The Cubs prospect turned in a pair of gems to repeat as Carolina League Pitcher of the Week.
Michael Rucker's third straight scoreless outing helped him earn his second straight award.
The Cubs prospect turned in a pair of gems to repeat as Carolina League Pitcher of the Week.
Rucker, a 23-year-old right-hander, struck out a career-high 10 and held Buies Creek to two hits over eight innings on July 17, then whiffed seven over five scoreless frames Saturday against Down East. The two starts came after the Brigham Young product picked up Pitcher of the Week honors last week in recognition of his outing on July 12, when he allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings against Winston-Salem.
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"Ever since the last start, things have been clicking," Rucker told MiLB.com on July 17. "I'm feeling good and my stuff has its movement. I've been able to place it in the zone, get guys to chase and have pitches start out of the zone and come back in."
Rucker's string of solid outings has lowered his season ERA to 1.86 in 21 games across two levels, though most of those appearances have come out of the bullpen. He's made all nine starts this season since joining the Pelicans rotation on June 5, going 3-2 with a 1.81 ERA in his new role.
"Right now, I'm just continuing to get a five-day starter routine nailed down, which has been the biggest thing with me learning," said Rucker, a 2016 11th-round pick who made the first 19 appearances of his career out of the bullpen.
Rucker began the year with Class A South Bend and posted a 1.42 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings in the Midwest League before getting promoted to the Myrtle Beach on May 16. Since then, he said he's been focused on what it takes to reach the next level -- and, ideally, the highest one.
"I had a conversation with [manager] Buddy Bailey about a week ago, talking to me about what it takes to get to the next level," Rucker told MiLB.com. "Guys that make the money, the workhorses at the big league level, they get deep into games, get above 100 on the pitch count, give the team a chance and pitch 220-plus innings. My mind-set is I want to get as deep as I can and give our team a chance to win."
Rucker retired 21 straight on July 17. Five days later, he allowed six hits and did not walk a batter.
Below is the complete list of Minor League Pitchers of the Week for July 17-23:
Pitchers of the Week