With two more former Kane County Cougars pitchers joining the Cubs on Aug. 19, 2016, the Cougars have reached another milestone.
Felix Pena is the 149th and Rob Zastryzny is the 150th Kane County baseball player to make a Major League Baseball debut.
Since their inception in 1991, the Cougars have always put on a fun, family-friendly show, but to have had that kind of impact on the Major Leagues and to have afforded local fans the opportunity to see the progress of stars and future hall-of-famers is a fine gift indeed for local fans and a neat little subtext for the history books. Among the Cougars alumni are Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Dempster and Kyle Schwarber.
Both Pena and Zastryzny were called up on Friday, Aug. 19, from Triple-A Iowa, and both went on to make their debut on the mound that same night for the Cubs in an 11-inning, 7-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Pena, a right-hander, was called upon in the ninth inning, recording two strikeouts, while not allowing a run. Zastryzny, a left-hander, was called upon in the 10th inning and eventually pitched himself out of a bases-loaded jam.
Stats and Background
Selected by the Cubs in the second round of the 2013 Draft out of Missouri, Zastryzny suited up for the Cougars that same season. In three games, he recorded a record of 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA while allowing just one run against.
Listed as the organization’s No. 20 prospect on MLB.com, Zastryzny began the 2016 season in Double-A Tennessee before receiving the promotion to Triple-A. In 14 starts for Iowa, he posted a 7-3 record with a 4.33 ERA and 77 strikeouts.
Signed by the Cubs organization as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, Pena spent the 2013 season with Kane County. In 21 games, he finished with a record of 4-7 and a 3.92 ERA including 77 strikeouts.
Ranked as the No. 25 prospect on MLB.com, Pena pitched in 36 games for the Iowa Cubs this season before getting the call up to the Majors, posting a record of 3-4 including 81 strikeouts and a 3.41 ERA.
Helping to make the transition to the Big Leagues easier, Pena and Zastryzny were greeted by a familiar face in former Cougars teammate, catcher Willson Contreras, who is also currently listed on the Cubs 25-man roster.
The Cougars begin a four-game homestand tonight (Friday, Aug. 26) against the Beloit Snappers at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Homestand highlights include Ghostbusters Night, a pre-game concert by Hi Infidelity, Pokémon Funday and Fan Appreciation Night. To order tickets, call the box office at 630-232-8811 or visit www.kccougars.com.