Contact St. Rita High School's Advancement/Alumni Office at (773) 925- 5029 purchase your Winterfest XI raffle ticket today. Only 800 tickets will be sold. $20,000 grand prize! Nine $1,000 prizes and one early-bird $1,000 prize. Winners will be announced on January 24, 2015--early bird winner announces December 4, 2014
On Friday, October 10, 2014 St. Rita High School President Ernie Mrozek ('71), Principal Brendan Conroy, Athletic Director Mike Zunica and Campus Minister Fr. Bernie Danber, O.S.A. were joined by Alderman Ed Burke, Hon. Tom Carroll ('78) and Hon. Ray Jagielski ('71) for the 14th Ward pre-game check presentation at Doyle Stadium. Alderman Burke presented a check, with a donation going to both St. Rita High School and St. Rita's 14th Ward Game opponent--St. Joseph High School. The 14th Ward Game tradition dates back to St. Rita's Campus at 63rd & Claremont. St. Rita remains proud of it's 14th Ward heritage and current strong relationship with the 14th Ward. After the check presentation, St. Rita honored it's senior football players, golfers, cross country runners, band members and cheerleaders.
The Mustangs defeated the Chargers of St. Joseph 55-14 before a large crowd. St. Rita is now 6-1, and has secured a place in state playoffs!
St. Rita High School celebrated homecoming week starting with the dance on Saturday. When students returned to school on Monday, they were prepared for a week filled not only with classes, but also school-wide, indoor and outdoor activities. Picture perfect weather set the scene for a wiffle ball tournament, a faculty/student basketball game, football drills and a human pyramid competition, among others. The week was capped off by the re-dedication of Doyle Stadium and our homecoming game vs. our sister Augustinian school--Providence Catholic.
A packed house and picture-perfect weather framed the night for the re-dedication of St. Rita High School’s Doyle Stadium on the South Side of Chicago at 77th and Western Avenue on Friday, September 26th. Over 30 Augustinian Friars attended St. Rita’s homecoming football game vs. Providence Catholic High School. The Friars, along with Larry Doyle and family, St. Rita President Ernie Mrozek, and representatives from all St. Rita’s sports teams and clubs participated in the re-dedication of Doyle Stadium, including a pre-game Holy Water Blessing of the new turf field.
Eleven years ago, St. Rita High School was the first Chicago-area high school to install a new-generation turf field. This year, with the help of generous donors, they become the first Chicago-area high school to replace the field with the same updated turf that the Indianapolis Colts use on their home field.
On Friday, September 26, 2014 St. Rita High School celebrated its monthly all-school Mass and annual Grandparents Mass. It was a standing-room-only crowd in the The St. Rita Shrine Chapel. After Mass, students, families and grandparents listened to Joe Donzelli '61 talk about his experience as a Ritaman. He reminded the students of all the similarities between his experience at 63rd and Claremont and the one they have at St. Rita High School today. Joe also talked about how people are not sent to St. Rita High School, but called here for a reason. Lastly, Joe reminded the students to rely on the Holy Trinity, St. Rita of Cascia, and the brotherhood of the St. Rita family for a solid foundation as they grow.
Please mark your calendar for Saturday, November 1st, 2014 for the 6th Annual Jim O'Neill Scholarship Fund "Day at the Races" during the Breeder's Cup. The event starts at 1:00 PM in the Turf Room at Hawthorne Race Course, 3501 South Laramie Avenue in Cicero.
Jim was a 1966 graduate and a longtime friend of St. Rita High School. All the proceeds from this great event go directly to the Jim O'Neill Scholarship Fund established at the school to help those needy families with tuition assistance and financial aid. During the 2013-2014 academic year, St. Rita distributed over $ 1.4 million in tuition assistance and financial aid and the demand has not subsided. Every dollar raised through this event goes to help a family maintain their dream of a single-sex Catholic education for their son.
Please see the flyer for information to purchase tickets. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
David L. Brecht, OSA died in the late afternoon of September 6, 2014. He was 75. He had been battling a leukemia-like condition called myelodysplasis since 2012. His bone marrow did not make enough healthy blood cells. The blood cells did not mature into healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. The immature blood cells did not function normally and either died in the bone marrow or soon after they entered the blood.
David underwent chemotherapy treatments. A series of blood transfusions gave him some relief, but the transfusions had become increasingly less effective.
As he grew weaker, he made the decision at the end of the 2013-2014 school year to retire from teaching and campus ministry at Austin Catholic Academy, Ray, Michigan.
Early Life, Formation, and Education
David was born on October 17, 1938, in Detroit, Michigan, to John Lloyd and Mary Brecht. He met the Augustinians when he attended Austin Catholic High School in Detroit. He entered the Augustinian Order as a Novice on September 8, 1956 and professed his first vows on September 10, 1957. He professed his solemn vows exactly three years later in 1957.
Father Brecht holds two academic degrees from Villanova University including a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Classical Languages. He later earned a Diploma in Counseling from Salesian University in Rome. He attended Loyola University Chicago where he also earned a Master of Education and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Administration. Amidst his studies, he was ordained to the priesthood on February 6, 1965.
Education Ministry through 1990
After ordination, Father Brecht was first assigned to Mendel Catholic High School in Chicago as a teacher and chaplain. In 1967, he was assigned to Tolentine College in Olympia Fields, Illinois, where he served as sub-master of the professed, an academic dean, and a teacher.
In 1973, the same year in which Father Brecht completed his doctorate, he began teaching at Villanova University in Philadelphia and also held administrative positions there. He was later assigned to serve as Principal of St. Rita of Cascia High School in Chicago from 1979 to 1983. During this time, he also served as a member of the Provincial Council. In 1983, he was named Superintendent of Augustinian Schools and Prior of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Monastery in Olympia Fields. In 1985, Father Brecht was appointed Headmaster of Cascia Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While at Cascia Hall, Fr. Brecht was responsible for the school becoming co-educational and establishing a grade 6-12 education program.
Three Terms as Prior Provincial
In 1991, Father Brecht was elected Prior Provincial, the leader of the Midwest Augustinian Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel. As Provincial, Father Brecht launched the Augustinians' Journey of a Lifetime capital campaign to benefit the needs of the the retiring Augustinians. He served as Provincial for two terms until 1999, when he was assigned as the associate pastor of St. Jude Parish in New Lenox, Illinois. He returned to Tulsa as a teacher at Cascia Hall in 2001.
In 2002, Father Brecht was again elected as Prior Provincial; he is only one of two Augustinians to serve as Prior Provincial for the Midwest Province for three terms. At the end of his term in 2006, he was named Pastor of St. Clare of Montefalco Parish in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. He later served as the chaplain of Villanova College in King City, Ontario, during the 2009-2010 school year. In 2010, he returned to St. Clare of Montefalco Parish as Pastor and also served as the Headmaster of Austin Catholic Academy, a new Catholic secondary school in Ray, Michigan.
Named an "Outstanding Educator of America" in 1972, Father Brecht was cited for his contributions to the advancement of higher education and service to the community. He was inducted into the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor in 1980 "in recognition of service to all people regardless of race or faith." Periods of archaeological research on Roman ruins in Tunisia and Algeria, where St. Augustine lived and ministered in the fourth and fifth centuries, gave Father Brecht material for numerous lectures, published papers, and a short documentary on the life and times of Augustine. Additionally, Father Brecht has published several articles on educational themes and served on many educational commissions and task forces. Father Brecht was recognized as an honoree for the Augustinian Gala in 2014.
Thursday, September 11th: Wake 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm St. Clare of Montefalco Parish 1401 Whittier Rd. Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
Funeral Mass at 6:00 pm, followed by a reception in the Church Hall. Friday, September 12th: Burial at Augustinian Plot Mount Olivet Cemetery 17100 Van Dyke Ave. Detroit, MI 48234 Saturday, September 13th: Memorial Mass at St. Rita Chapel, 10:00 am Cascia Hall 2520 S. Yorktown Ave. Tulsa, OK 74114-2803
Saturday, September 20th: Memorial Mass at St. Rita Shrine Chapel, 10:00 am. St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel 7740 S. Western Ave. Chicago, IL 60620
The sounds of pads popping and whistles blowing means one thing...Doyle Stadium's new turf is installed and ready for the first game of the 2014 season. The Mustangs are preparing for the first game at Toyota Park against Simeon on August 31. The Mustangs return home to Doyle Stadium on September
5 to face Dunbar for the first game on the new surface. GO RITA GO!
5 to face Dunbar for the first game on the new surface. GO RITA GO!
Work on Doyle Stadium's new turf is almost complete. The crew is entering the final phase of installation. Cryogenic rubber and silica sand are being added to the turf, in preparation of the first games on Friday, September 5 against Dunbar High School. Please join us at the games on September 5th for the first look at the new surface and to support the 2014 St. Rita Mustangs!
St. Rita High School raised in excess of $49,000 for scholarships and tuition assistance on July 25 at Gleneagles Country Club in Lemont. Thanks to our 218 golfers, generous sponsors and friends of St. Rita High School for making this event a big success. Please like St. Rita High School on Facebook to see more outing pictures.
St. Rita High School has announced a new Head Coach for its varsity volleyball program. Mr. Brian Hagen ’04 joined the school for the 2013-14 school year as a full-time Guidance Counselor, and will take the reins of the volleyball program beginning next season. Hagen has been involved in coaching at the high school level for several years, coaching both club and high school teams. He coached at St. Rita in 2009 on the freshmen and varsity levels. He has also worked as an IHSA referee for several years. While a student at St. Rita, Hagen was a four-year volleyball player, and a two-year varsity standout. While playing at St. Rita, the Mustangs were regularly among the best teams in the Chicago Catholic League. His 2003 Mustangs reached the Elite 8 at the IHSA State Tournament.
Hagen will look to get the Mustangs down state on a regular basis and add a 7th appearance at the IHSA tournament for the program. The teams’ most recent appearances were 2011 and 2012.
"I am humbled and honored to be the new head volleyball coach at my alma mater,” Hagen stated. “I am very excited to start working with the great athletes at St. Rita and build on this programs’ long history of winning volleyball."
Hagen will be holding a grade school Volleyball Camp for students in grades 4-8 from July 14-17 at St. Rita High School from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
By Justin Breen on May 13, 2014 9:19am
ASHBURN — Bruce Gaston didn't start until the seventh game of his junior season at St. Rita High School.
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the former Mustangs and Purdue University standout defensive tackle is heading to the NFL after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals over the weekend.
"I feel like this is where I wanted to end up, and I'm here because of my hard work," Gaston said late Monday from Arizona. "And I'm going to stay here because of the work I'm going to put in."
St. Rita coach Todd Kuska wasn't surprised Gaston, who was considered a possible late-round draft pick, was picked up by the Cardinals as a free agent.
"I knew since his junior year that he was a very special player and that he possessed the size, speed and athleticism that they looked for in the NFL," Kuska said of the 6-foot-2, 316-pound Gaston. "He began to use technique, along with his size and strength — that is what made him special that year.
"I believe he will be successful because of his desire to succeed," Kuska added. "Bruce has the physical tools to succeed, but he also has the determination to play at the highest level."
Gaston, a West Pullman native, said being bypassed in the draft is going to be a huge motivating factor as his NFL career begins.
"Of course I was disappointed not getting drafted," he said. "It was a great disappointment, but now I have a chip on my shoulder — a huge chip. I'm going to use it every day for motivation. It will fuel my drive and hunger to be even more successful."
It’s not the big move many are hoping will come in free agency or the draft, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have added a quarterback. The Bucs have signed Mike Kafka, agent Mike McCartney said via Twitter.
Kafka was a fourth-round pick by Philadelphia in 2010 and spent two seasons as a backup with the Eagles. Kafka was out of the NFL last season after being released by Jacksonville.
Kafka, 26, has appeared in four NFL games and attempted 16 passes. Kafka isn’t a threat to beat out Mike Glennon for the starting job. Dan Orlovsky, last year’s backup, is scheduled to become a free agent and the Bucs could bring in someone to compete with Glennon. Kafka is likely to compete with Jordan Rodgers for the third quarterback spot.
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com
It was a valid question, considering O’Neill had played football much of his life and
was an integral member of St. Rita’s 1978 state championship team.
“I thought he meant coaching,” said O’Neill, who grew up in Chicago’s Scottsdale neighborhood. “My dad (Bill) was a teacher and coach. My brother (Mike) and sister (Ann) were teachers and coaches. I said, ‘No.’ But he meant as an official. That kind of got me interested. He told me to go to a (official’s) meeting and see what it’s about.”
Twenty-seven years later, O’Neill, now 53, recently reached college football’s grandest stage. The St. Bede’s School grad was part of the seven-man crew that officiated the 2014 BCS National Championship game between Florida State and Auburn, held Jan. 6 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
The game was an instant classic, won 34-31 by Florida State.
“It was unbelievable,” said O’Neill, the director of development at St. Rita. “Just being on the floor of the Rose Bowl during the national championship game. Every college official is watching that game and being able to demonstrate your abilities to your peers is pretty special.”
And what his peers witnessed, along with millions of viewers, was a cleanly officiated game, void of any controversial whistles or flags that might have impacted the outcome.
“We had nothing to do with the outcome,” O’Neill said. “They put it (game) in our hands and I think we put it in the upper deck.”
O’Neill’s officiating journey to the national championship began in 1986 with a freshman “B” game between Reavis and Sandburg. His first college game was at Moraine Valley back when the community college had a football program.
“I remember the first time I ever stepped onto a Big Ten stadium,” O’Neill said. “Another official had to beg off his game on Friday because his wife was having a baby. I
stepped in. Cincinnati was playing Wisconsin, and it went into overtime. It was a thrill.”
Each year, St. Rita of Cascia High School honors the donors who support the school with generous gifts that ensure scholarships and financial aid, as well as the facilities that serve the community. At their annual reception on October 10, 2013, Ray Keane'14 spoke to the group about the opportunities he has had at St. Rita because of their generosity. Ray is the son of Raymond'79 and Donna Keane of Orland Park. A member of the wrestling and baseball teams, as well as a Kairos leader, Ray embodies what it means to be a true Ritaman. His remarks, in full, are below.
Good evening Mr. Mrozek, Mr. O’Neill, Fr. Tom, the Augustinian Community of St. Rita, benefactors, board members, and friends of St. Rita. My name is Ray Keane, class of 2014. On behalf of the entire St. Rita community, I welcome you to this President’s Dinner. All of you are here tonight because of your generous donations made to the school. We would like to honor you and show our appreciation for these wonderful gifts. I personally want to thank you for all these donations. It has a great impact on my life. Let me tell you my story, but before I do, I want to thank my mother Donna Keane, and sister Renee Keane for being in attendance. I’d like to also thank my father Raymond Keane, who could not attend tonight, but is with us in spirit.
In 2010, my father, Raymond Keane, who is a 1979 Rita alumni, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also know as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS. However, he had been experiencing symptoms going back to 2007. It started with the loss of strength in his right arm and quickly spread to his entire body. Over the past five years, his salary as a respected attorney has been cut in half, due to his inability to attend court. Today, he is 100% incapable to move independently and relies on the help of my family and me to assist his needs. Now why is this relevant to this dinner? In no way am I looking for a sob story. These are simply the harsh facts of my current situation. The reason I bring this up is to demonstrate how much of a family the St. Rita community has been to my family and me in our time of need. With the donations given by generous people like all of you, St Rita was able to assist my parents financially to help pay for my tuition. If this hadn’t occurred, I would have to transfer to another school. When I arrived at St. Rita I had not known if I made the right choice. I was the only kid from my grade school of 850 in Orland Park to attend Rita. In fact, I was expecting to attend Carl Sandburg high school my entire life. One day, while driving home from my grand parent’s house in the city with my dad and brother, I noticed we were near where I thought St. Rita was located. I had seen an ad in the paper for their open house, and realized it was occurring at that moment. I decided to ask my dad to stop there, just to check it out. I mean, my father went there, so I figured I could just see what the school looked like. As we entered, I noticed a sense of school spirit that I had not experienced before. Everything was covered in Rita logos, and Mustangs pictures. It was a cool site to see. After walking into the gym, I made my way to the wrestling table, as I aspired to wrestle in high school. This was when I met my coach Dan Manzella. To be honest, he is the one who got me to want to attend St. Rita, right then and there. He was a down to earth guy, who was passionate about wrestling, but even more so about the school. He made us feel important, taking us for a tour of the wrestling room and school. He was very genuine in what he said. That’s something I never experienced from a high school coach. I knew St. Rita was different, and now I was strongly considering attending. When I got home, I was excited to tell my mom the news. When I pulled out the pamphlets and said I’m considering St. Rita, she said very quickly, “No, I won’t send you to a place like that.” You see, my mother had preconceived ideas that Rita might be a misogynistic environment. She couldn’t understand how I’d be able to work in the business world with females, if I attended an all-male school. Boy did her opinion change fast. Just like me, she was nearly sold on Rita after seeing the school and realizing how caring everyone is. She said she felt a vibe here that she couldn’t describe. I think she also liked the fact I would have no excuse not to attend church. When we got home, she told me I could go where ever I wanted. In my mind I knew, Rita was the choice. So on the first day of school, I was at 77th and Western. My career at St. Rita had begun. The first day of school was very intimidating. I knew no. Yet, I was accepted for who I was as a person. I never felt alone or by myself. Even though I didn’t technically know anybody, everyone was still friendly enough to treat me with respect. To be honest, friends were made easily, because of the friendly environment that is present here. As a matter of fact, I met one of my best friends while at St. Rita, Ryan Barr. Now who would have thought one kid from Orland Park and another from Blue Island would become best friends? I honestly had never heard of Blue Island, and had no idea where it was located. Even with our differences, Ryan and I clicked the instant we started talking in our Honors Biology class. To this day we talk everyday. The reason our friendship is different is that we can talk about anything. I owe a lot to Ryan for putting up with some of my craziness. He is always there for me if I need to talk about the struggles at home, or just need to take my mind off things. Our friendship is something I will always treasure, and it would not have happened if not for St. Rita.
A big change for me that I noticed was how caring and relatable the teachers and staff were. In junior high, the feeling was that teachers wanted to just teach and leave. At Rita, teachers I’ve had like Mrs. Dion and Mr. Partacz genuinely cared for my wellbeing, both in school and out. Even the little things of asking me “how are you doing Ray”, or “how’s your dad feeling”, is something I can’t really describe. The love and concern they and everyone has shown me is remarkable. That’s something I would have never expected. The entire staff here truly loves their jobs, but more importantly, truly cares for the students. You can’t get that just anywhere. Rita really is a tight knit family. I also appreciate all the help from teachers who have assisted me with my academics. I have stayed on top of my grades, receiving gold and silver honors every semester and currently ranked in the top 15 percent in my class. I owe this not only to my personal hard work, but the immense help from the St. Rita staff. Approaching teachers to ask questions is not an intimidating thing at all. They are all down to earth and would be happy to help. I can’t say enough about the staff and academics here at St. Rita.
Another aspect of St. Rita that has been helpful to me is the faith community. As I have gotten older, my faith has grown stronger. I owe this to the strong faith shown at St. Rita. Over the past year, I have gotten a lot more involved in Campus Ministry. Just this year, I led Kairos 113, which is a retreat for seniors. It was an unbelievable experience as I was able to more openly share the issues that have occurred at home. The overall friendly environment helps relieve stress and allows you to be yourself during school. Daily conversations with Mr. Blazack, our Campus Minister, cracking jokes at one another or just discussing life, has helped me get my mind off some of the negative things in my life. The faith community here has just been terrific. And as I mentioned before, I know my mom loves that I am actually going to mass now. You can thank Rita for that mom.
Athletically, I have wrestled and played baseball every year. The head varsity baseball coach, and Athletic Director Coach Mike Zunica, has pushed me on and off the field. The same goes for the varsity wrestling coach, Coach Dan Manzella. Both men have taught me how to be a better man. They both stayed true to what they promised me way back during that open house. Both had said that I will enter a boy and leave a man. I believe this to be true. These coaches have had an immense impact on my life, showing me how to be a better human being. I can specifically recall how Coach Manzella has taught me that family comes first. Usually, he is the type of coach that never allows practices to be missed. Yet, I remember one November day in my junior year when my mom texted me saying I needed to come home now. My grandmother had just passed away. I was hesitant to ask coach to leave, thinking he’d say no. On the other hand, he looked at me and said, “go take care of your family. That’s the important thing in life.” He taught me right then and there that life is bigger then just sports, or school work. It’s about being there for your loved ones. These lessons are something I will always treasure, and I thank both Coach Zunica and Coach Manzella for helping me buy in to their programs, and St. Rita as a whole.
Now for something that isn’t 100 % known, my future. While I can’t look into a glass ball and see where I’ll be in 5 years, I can make goals that help me strive for success. After graduating St. Rita, I hope to attend a major university, looking to major in business economics. With this degree, I plan on taking the LSAT, attending Law School, and passing the BAR Exam in order to receive my law license. From here I hope to practice law, and eventually open my own firm. Now I realize these are pretty lofty dreams to have. But I can honestly say this doesn’t bother or intimidate me. Reason being I know how to succeed in this world from the morals and ideals I’ve been taught during my time at St. Rita. This is something you don’t get everywhere. How many schools have the family environment where a student can walk down the hall and the principal will know their name by heart? Or where you can find a school where over 90% of the student enrollment is involved in extracurricular activities? There is no environment like St. Rita. I know this was the right place for me. And I thank you for you donations that allowed me to stay enrolled here. In no way have I taken this opportunity for granted, as I have made the most out of every opportunity that has crossed my way. I realize I am unable to pay any of you back for those remarkable donations. So for the past four years, I have tried to pay you, not in money, but in hard work and dedication, to show that not a penny of your donation has gone to waste. Once again, I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you and God bless.
The 14th Annual Mustang Stampede will be held at St. Rita on October 6, 2013. Featuring over 20 bands, this competition is sponsored by the St. Rita High School Band and Band boosters and is coordinated byC indy Gradek, Director of Bands. The bands will be adjudicated by top university and Drum Corp International judges.
The competition begins at 1:00pm and will be open to the public. Tickets for adults are $10, senior citizens are $6, and children under five will get in for free. There is also a Family Plan ticket for $25 (2 adults, 2 students or senior citizens, $5 each additional student or senior citizen). Concession will be available all day and the festivities will end with an award ceremony at 6:45pm
Schedule of Bands
Class Band Performance Time
|1:15 p.m.||Niles West||A|
|1:30 p.m.||Evergreen Park||A|
|2:45 p.m.||T. F. South||AA|
|3:15 p.m.||Evanston Township||AA|
|3:30 p.m.||Providence Catholic||AA|
|3:45 p.m.||Rolling Meadows||AA|
|4:30 p.m.||Grayslake North||AAA|
|4:45 p.m.||Glenbrook South||AAA|
|5:00 p.m.||Maine West||AAA|
|5:15 p.m.||Joliet West||AAA|
|5:30 p.m.||Carl Sandburg||AAA|
|5:45 p.m.||Grayslake Central||AAA|
|6:00 p.m.||Elk Grove||AAA|
|6:15 p.m.||Hinsdale South||AAA|
|6:30 p.m.||Exhibition||St. Rita of Cascia|
|6:45 p.m.||AWARD CEREMONY|
Tony Zych went to the Arizona Fall League hoping to make a good impression on his bosses in the Cubs organization. Other than a blip in his final outing of the annual five-week prospects league, Zych likely did just that. The 22-year-old St. Rita graduate and Monee native didn’t leave Arizona with great numbers when play concluded in mid-November — he was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA, four strikeouts and two walks in 13 appearances — but he routinely cracked 95 mph on the radar gun.
“Tony Zych, now you are talking about a next-level talent,” said Matt Herges, his pitching coach with the Mesa Solar Sox and a member of the Dodgers organization. “His fastball is not something you see every day. He is one of those in-your-face guys with great mound presence. I love the way he goes about it. He just has that great mound presence.”
What Zych doesn’t yet have is consistency.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-hander, drafted in the fourth round by the Cubs in 2011, jumped from Class A Daytona to Double-A Tennessee in 2012. At Daytona, he went 3-3 with six saves, 36 strikeouts, seven walks and a 3.19 ERA in 27 appearances covering 36⅔ innings, While the strikeouts remained impressive in Double-A — he had 28 in 24⅔ innings — 12 walks and a 4.38 ERA over those 20 appearances were less so.
“This has been great, competing against all these young guys and seeing how they go about their business,” Zych said. “Obviously, I think my velocity is a strong point and that I have the mentality of a power pitcher. A weakness is my consistency and I am here hoping to work on that.”
The fact he was in Arizona indicates the Cubs believe he’s been making progress.
“Tony pitched very well this past year, he improved his fastball and throwing downhill, which is going to be his game — he has a power arm,” Cubs farm director Brandon Hyde said. “We want to see him (in Arizona) facing the top competition on a daily basis and continue to make strides.”
Brian Harper, Zych’s manager with Daytona and hitting coach for the Solar Sox, has seen as much of Zych as anybody. He’s already seen strides.
“You know he had a little bit of a rocky start down in Daytona in this his first full year of pro ball, but he has learned how to make pitches,” Harper said. “I think he has the potential to be a back end reliever in the big leagues, whether it is the seventh, eighth or ninth inning.”
Things have evolved considerably since 2008, when Zych first was drafted by the Cubs. Selected in the 45th round, the pitcher/second baseman opted to go from St. Rita to the University of Louisville.
“I was just a young player and still a two-way player and not 100 percent locked in on what I was going to do,” Zych said. “So it made sense to go to Louisville, as there was a two-way option there.”
After morphing into one of the top closers in the Big East — Zych saved 12 games as a junior after bouncing between the bullpen and the rotation his first two years — the Cubs again drafted him, this time in the fourth round, with the 129th overall pick.
He pitched in four games after being drafted in 2011, then started a quick-rising 2012 that could see him invited to spring training with the parent club in 2013.
“Here is a guy that hasn’t been pitching that long professionally and he already is in the AFL,” Solar Sox manager Rodney Linares said. “He is showing people what he can do. The stuff is there; he has a plus fastball and his breaking pitches are coming along.”