Jayhawks in the Pros #1

June 19, 2008


Throughout the 2008 season, kuathletics.com will check in on the 14 former student-athletes who are currently involved in professional baseball. After having five players drafted in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft, several Jayhawks made their professional debuts this week. For a complete list of all former Kansas players involved in pro ball, please click here.

After an extremely successful first half during the 2007 season, left-handed pitcher Tom Gorzelanny has been uneven in 14 starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates this year. Gorzelanny returned to his home state of Illinois for a June 18 start against the Chicago White Sox, allowing four runs on five hits over six innings. This season the former Jayhawk pitcher is 5-6 with a 6.59 ERA in 71 innings.

Left-handed pitcher Mike Zagurski continues to rehab his left elbow after having surgery in April. Zagurski, a member of the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen last year, is expected to miss the entire season with the injury.

After spending much of the year in the majors in 2007, Travis Metcalf has seen a majority of his time in triple-A with the Oklahoma Redhawks this year. Metcalf – still in the Texas Rangers’ organization – went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored Wednesday evening and is batting .252 with six doubles, a triple and a home run in 27 games for the Redhawks. Metcalf played in nine games for the Rangers earlier this year, but was sent down in May.

Left-handed pitcher Les Walrond continues to be a staple in professional baseball. Walrond – who played at KU from 1996-98 – is in his 11th year of pro ball and has had two stints in the majors, with the Kansas City Royals (2003) and Chicago Cubs (2006). This year Walrond is pitching for Lehigh Valley – the triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies – and is 2-7 with a 4.01 ERA in 16 appearances. He has struck out 53 in 58 1/3 innings this season.

Left-handed pitcher Zach Ashwood is in his second year of professional baseball and is pitching with the Peoria Chiefs, the Chicago Cubs single-A affiliate this season. Ashwood is 2-6 with a 5.24 ERA in 14 appearances for the Chiefs this season, but picked up a win in his June 14 appearance against the Burlington Bees.

Right-handed pitcher Don Czyz is was placed on the seven-day disabled list in early June and is due to come back in the next few days. Czyz, now in his third season of pro ball, was enjoying his best season with the Greensboro Grasshoppers to date. The former All-American has three saves and a 2.35 ERA in 19 relief appearances this season. Czyz has an amazing strikeout-to-walk ratio this year with 37 k’s and just six walks in 30 2/3 innings.

Outfielder Gus Milner continues to put up solid numbers for the Clearwater Threshers, the single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Milner collected three hits, including a two-run homer Tuesday night in a doubleheader at Tampa. This season, the 6-foot-5 outfielder is batting .295 with five homers, 36 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He also has a 14 doubles in 66 games this season.

Outfielder Brock Simpson made quite an impression in his professional debut Tuesday evening with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the single-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Simpson went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, which included driving in the game-winner in the ninth inning against Williamsport. Simpson was drafted by the Phillies last year and had been in extended spring training prior to this week.
Outfielder John Allman made his debut for the Rookie League Indians of the Gulf Coast League on June 20, and scored his first run in a professional game three days later against the GCL Phillies after drawing a walk. Allman signed a free-agent contract with the Indians organization in early June.

Left-handed pitcher Nick Czyz, has also joined the ranks of professional baseball this summer. Nick Czyz earned a win in his professional debut with the Pulaski Mariners, a Rookie League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. The 6-foot-2 lefty pitched two innings of scoreless relief and allowed just two hits while recording two strikeouts on Tuesday night against the Princeton Rays.
Right-handed pitcher Andres Esquibel also made his professional debut on June 19, and pitched an inning of hitless relief for the Pulaski Mariners, a Rookie League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Esquibel picked up a save in that outing, and also pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in a June 23 game against the Burlington Royals.

Left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman also made his professional debut last night, and pitched an inning of relief for the Johnson City Chiefs, a Rookie League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Freeman allowed a run on one hit, but recorded three strikeouts in his first professional appearance.
Infielder Erik Morrison made his professional debut on June 22 for the Rookie League Rangers in the Arizona League and went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and an RBI in the Rangers’ win over the Arizona League Giants. Morrison was drafted by the Rangers in the 46th round by the Texas organization.

Outfielder Ryne Price went 2-for-2 in his professional debut for the Arizona League Giants on June 22, scoring a run and drawing a base on balls. Price was drafted in the 33rd round by the San Francisco organization, but did not play against Morrison’s team on June 23.