Five Jayhawks Selected in MLB First-Year Player Draft

June 6, 2008


Five different Jayhawks were selected by major league organizations in the second day of the Major League Baseball first-year players draft. Left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman (<?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>St. Louis), outfielder Ryne Price (San Francisco), left-handed pitcher Nick Czyz (Seattle), right-handed pitcher Andres Esquibel (Seattle) and shortstop Erik Morrison (Texas) were all selected Friday. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Freeman, who was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 32ndround (pick No. 965), went 4-1 with an 8.53 ERA in 13 appearances this season for KU. The Kansas junior won three of his first four starts in a Jayhawk uniform, including a 6-2 decision at Texas on March 16. Freeman started his collegiate baseball career at NorthCentralTexasCollege, where he played two seasons before transferring to KU. He was previously selected by the Cardinals in the 23rd round of the 2007 draft.

Price, who was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 33rd round (pick No. 987), was a four-year starter who played several different positions during his college career. He finished his Jayhawk career with a .275 batting average, a school record 35 home runs, 155 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. He became the first Jayhawk to hit 30 home runs in his career (later joined by Morrison), and finished ninth in KU history in RBIs (155).

Czyz was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the 35th round (pick No. 1,062). The left-hander made a team-high 13 starts for the Jayhawks this season and compiled a 2-7 mark with a 6.12 ERA. Czyz struck out 59 in 64 2/3 innings and pitched the team to wins over North DakotaState and Texas Tech. Czyz is tied for ninth in KU history for most games started.

Esquibel was also selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 38th round (pick No. 1,152). He was a key pitcher for the Jayhawks this season. He transferred to KU following one season at Palomar (Calif.) Community College, went 10-7 in his Kansas career, including 7-3 in 2007. He posted a 5.17 ERA with 139 hits allowed in 141 innings. Opponents batted just .258 against the 6-foot-2 right-hander. He allowed one hit in eight innings of work in a start against Texas Tech on April 12, becoming the first Kansas pitcher to one-hit a conference opponent in nearly 20 years.

Morrison was taken in the 46thround by the Texas Rangers (pick No. 1,380). The Kansas shortstop was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, but elected to return to KU for his senior campaign. He completed his Jayhawk years with a .279 average, 31 home runs and 171 RBIs. He also swiped 27 bases, including a career high 13 this season. He was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention for the second-straight season.

The Jayhawks also had two incoming freshmen drafted on day two, infielder Zac Elgie (Oakland Athletics, Round 12) and pitcher Lee Ridenhour (Minnesota Twins, Round 31).