Former Jayhawk Zagurski Returns to the Majors with Pirates

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the type of numbers former Kansas pitcher Mike Zagurski was putting up in the minors, it should come as no surprise that he didn’t allow a run and fanned a batter in his first Major League game of the 2013 season as the Pittsburgh Pirates dropped a 6-5 decision to the Detroit Tigers Monday.

Zagurski struck out nearly two batters per inning – with 37 strike outs in 21.0 innings – against the best hitters in the minor leagues for Class AAA Indianapolis and continued his hot start to the year when he was called up by the Pirates Monday. The Omaha, Neb., native was the first man out of the bullpen in relief of Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano, and pitched a scoreless sixth to momentarily stop Detroit’s potent offense. Zagurski got Brayan Pena to ground out, struck out Avisail Garcia, and walked Omar Infante with two outs before getting veteran outfielder Torii Hunter to fly out to center and end the inning.  

“I’m thrilled Mike’s been recalled,” Kansas head coach Ritch Price said from his office Tuesday. “His numbers in triple-A have been outstanding – it’s a well-deserved promotion. He’s got one of the best fastballs in baseball, and commands it really well. His walk totals are down and his strikeout numbers are up. It just shows how hard he works – he works his tail off, grinds every day. Hopefully, he’ll stay on the big league roster and finish his career up there.”

Zagurski, who last pitched for the Jayhawks in 2005, was one of the final preseason cuts by the Pirates after signing as a non-roster free agent and was sent to Indianapolis where he’s been a part of one of the hottest team in the International League. Opponent efforts to hit Zagurski were borderline laughable, with an opponent batting average of .188 while allowing just 15 hits in 21 innings. He was especially tough on right-handed batters, holding opponents to a .151 batting average. The left-handed pitcher appeared in 19 games and issued just nine walks for Indianapolis before replacing Bryan Morris on the Pittsburgh roster Monday.

“The speed of his fastball and the depth of his slider are both better than what we saw in Spring Training,” Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle said of Zagurski in an article on “The numbers against left-handers have been good, but the numbers against right-handers have been silly.”

The Pirates and Indians match-up again Tuesday night in Detroit, with a first-pitch scheduled for 6:08 p.m. (CT). The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.