Jayhawks In The Pros #2

July 3, 2008

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

Throughout the 2008 season, kuathletics.com will check in on the 14 former student-athletes who are currently involved in professional baseball. There are former Kansas players at virtually all levels of professional baseball, including two (Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Zagurski) who are currently on major league rosters.

After a rough first half, Tom Gorzelanny showed signs of coming around with perhaps his best start of the season on June 29. Gorzelanny held the first-place Tampa Bay Rays to just two earned runs on eight hits over six innings, but did not factor into the decision. The left-hander struck out a season-high eight in his start against the Rays. Gorzelanny is 6-6 this season with an ERA of 5.82 with 32 strikeouts in 55 2/3 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.

Third baseman Travis Metcalf has hit safely in six of his last eight games, and is 8-for-25 during that stretch with a double, two homers and five RBIs for the Oklahoma Redhawks – the AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Metcalf has struggled since being sent down to triple-A, batting .239 for the Redhawks this season, but is a strong candidate to be recalled to the majors later this season with injuries to Texas third baseman Hank Blalock.

Left-handed pitcher Les Walrond’s win-loss record doesn’t look at 2-7, but don’t be fooled. The nine-year veteran of professional baseball has a 3.92 ERA and has struck out 56 in 64 1/3 innings this season, while allowing 63 hits. Walrond is currently pitching with Lehigh Valley, the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. On Tuesday, he picked up his second win with the IronPigs, holding Rochester to three runs on six hits over six innings to go along with four strikeouts.

Left-handed pitcher Zach Ashwood has also hit his stride in the month of June. The 6-foot-4 lefty is 4-0 with a 4.80 ERA in his last six appearances. Ashwood has also walked nine, compared to 23 strikeouts in his last 10 appearances out of the bullpen. The former KU southpaw is currently playing with the Peoria Chiefs, the single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

Right-handed pitcher Don Czyz is was placed on the 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.

Oufielder Gus Milner continues to go at a steady pace this season, batting .289 with 15 doubles, five homers and 15 stolen bases for the Clearwater Threshers – the single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The former Kansas outfielder has reached base at a .366 clip this season.

Outfielder Kyle Murphy has gotten off to a fast start with the Clinton LumberKings – a single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Murphy is batting .269 in his first seven games with the club, after starting the season in extended spring training. The former Kansas center fielder tripled in his first game with the LumberKings on June 22 and collected two hits and an RBI in Monday’s contest with Quad Cities.

Former Jayhawk Brock Simpson is tearing the cover off the ball in single-A with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers – an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. In 10 games this season, Simpson is batting .350 with a double, seven runs scored and five RBIs, including a 3-for-5 effort on Wednesday night against State College. In his first 10 contests, the left-handed hitting Simpson has five multiple-hit games.

Another former KU outfielder, John Allman, collected his first professional hit on Tuesday night, doubling against the Gulf Coast League Yankees. Allman, who played at KU from 2005-08, is in Rookie League with the GCL Indians after signing a pro contract after the draft.

After serving as a starting pitcher for most of his Kansas career, left-handed pitcher Nick Czyz seems to be mirroring his brother, having made four relief appearances for the Pulaski Mariners. Czyz is 1-1 this season for the Seattle Mariners’ Rookie League affiliate, posting a 3.86 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. The lefty suffered a loss to Bristol on Monday, allowing an earned run in 3 1/3 innings.

Right-handed pitcher Andres Esquibel is Czyz’ teammate with Pulaski, and has three relief appearances this season, collecting a save on June 19 against Princeton. Esquibel also pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings against Burlington on June 23.

Left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman is in same league as Czyz and Esquibel – the Appalachian League – and has back-to-back appearances without allowing earned runs. The 5-foot-11 lefty pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief on June 26 against Elizabethton, collecting his seventh strikeout of the season.

Shortstop Erik Morrison has not cooled off since the end of the college season. After collecting four hits in his final game in a Jayhawk uniform, Morrison has batted .389 in his first five professional contests, going 7-for-18 with three doubles and four runs scored. Morrison is in Rookie ball with the Arizona League Rangers, and led the team with a 3-for-4 night against the Athletics on Wednesday night.

Outfielder Ryne Price has shown no signs of slowing down either. The 5-foot-11 left-handed slugger is batting .308 in his first five professional games, going 5-for-13 with a pair of doubles for the Arizona League Giants. Price went 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored in his first professional game on June 22.

For a complete list of Kansas players involved in professional baseball, please clink on the link below:

http://kuathletics.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/jayhawks-in-the-pros.html