Jayhawks In The Pros #3

July 18, 2008


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.

After a slow start, John Allman has hit like he did at KU with the Gulf Coast League Indians – the Cleveland Indians’ Rookie affiliate. Allman, who played at KU from 2005-08, was hitless in his first nine professional at bats, before hitting in six straight games to raise his batting average to .355 with two doubles, a homer and six RBIs in 10 games for the Indians. The 6-foot-2 outfielder also has a pair of stolen bases this season.

Zach Ashwood has been used as a long reliever/spot starter for the Peoria Chiefs – a Chicago Cubs Single-A affiliate. Ashwood struggled early in the season, but has picked it up lately. The 6-foot-4 lefty hasn’t lost a decision since June 6, going 5-0 with a 4.70 ERA in that time. Overall, Ashwood, who played at KU during the 2007 season, is 5-6 with a 5.11 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.

Nick Czyz was a tough-luck loser in his start for the Pulaski Mariners on Wednesday night. Czyz, pitching for the Seattle Mariners’ Rookie affiliate, scattered seven hits over five innings to go with no walks and six strikeouts, but took the loss after allowing just one earned run. Czyz, who played at KU from 2006-08, has put up some impressive numbers in his first month of pro baseball, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.39 ERA and a strikeouts to walks ratio of 26-5.

Andres Esquibel, who played at KU from 2007-08, is a teammate of Nick Czyz in Pulaski and has been a consistent contributor out of the bullpen. The 6-foot-1 righty is 1-0 with a 3.14 ERA and has a save in seven appearances, including a scoreless 1 2/3 innings on Thursday evening against Elizabethton.

Sam Freeman, a 2008 draft pick, has shown some promise with the Johnson City Cardinals – the St. Louis Cardinals’ Rookie League affiliate. Freeman, who got off to a slow start, has been lights out in his last two appearances. The 5-foot-11 lefty has pitched five consecutive scoreless innings, allowing just one walk and two hits in that time to go along with six strikeouts. Freeman played at KU during the 2008 season.

Tom Gorzelanny was optioned to Indianapolis after a July 4 start in Milwaukee, and has made one start for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate. Last Saturday, Gorzelanny, who played at KU in 2002, pitched three innings against Toledo and allowed one run on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts, but took a tough loss, 1-0.

Travis Metcalf also spent time in the major leagues this season, but is currently playing with Oklahoma – the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate. Metcalf, who played at KU from 2002-04, is batting .231 with nine doubles, three homers and 23 RBIs in 48 games for the Redhawks this season. In his last game before the All-Star break, he went 1-for-4 with a run scored against Round Rock.

Gus Milner continues to put up respectable numbers with the Clearwater Threshers – the Philadelphia Phillies’ Single-A affiliate. Milner, who played at KU from 2005-06, is batting .272 with 16 doubles, four triples and six homers this season. The 6-foot-5 outfielder has 41 RBIs, 53 runs scored and 16 stolen bases, proving that he is a threat both at the plate and on the base paths.

Erik Morrison has started his professional career with a bang for the Arizona League Rangers – Texas’ Rookie affiliate. Morrison, who played at KU from 2005-08, is batting .310 with seven doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in his first 15 games of pro ball. Morrison had a memorable game July 6 against the Angels, belting two homers and driving in three runs in a 7-5 Rangers’ defeat.

Kyle Murphy is looking to pick things up in the second half of the season with the Clinton LumberKings – a Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Murphy, who played at KU from 2006-07, is batting .238 in 12 games with Clinton. He has a double, a triple and three RBIs in 42 at bats. Murphy will look for more consistent playing time in the Clinton outfield after the All-Star break.

Ryne Price has shown some promise for the Arizona League Giants – the San Francisco Giants’ Rookie affiliate. Price, who played at KU from 2005-08, is batting .276 with three doubles and a homer in his first 10 games of professional baseball. The man who hit more home runs than anybody in a Jayhawk uniform collected his first professional round-tripper on Monday evening, in a game against the Cubs.

Brock Simpson continues to impress with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers – a Single-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Simpson, who played at KU from 2005-07, is batting .321 with four doubles, nine RBIs and 14 runs scored with the Scrappers. The 6-foot-3 outfielder recently collected four hits in a game, including two doubles and an RBI in Mahoning Valley’s 7-6 loss to Vermont.

Les Walrond has spent two different stints in the major leagues, and may be angling for a third go-round. The 6-foot-3 lefty, who played at KU from 1996-98, had a career game against Louisville on July 6. Walrond, now with Lehigh Valley – the Philadelphia Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate, struck out 17 Louisville hitters in a complete game shut out. Walrond began the year in the Cubs’ organization, and has been a rock since being traded in mid-May. The veteran minor leaguer is 3-7 with Lehigh Valley with a 3.32 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings.