Jayhawks in the Pros
Aug. 2, 2011
Throughout the course of the 2011 season, kuathletics.com will update the progress of the 15 former Jayhawks who are currently playing within the ranks of professional baseball.
“I’m really proud of the success our players are having in professional baseball,” Kansas Head Coach Ritch Price said. “I think it’s a testament to my assistant coaches for preparing guys to play at the next level and also to the Big 12 Conference. Our great league gives players a taste of what they’ll see every day in the minor leagues.”
Former Kansas pitcher Tom Gorzelanny is in his seventh major league season and his first with the Washington Nationals. The 6-foot-2 lefty, who played at KU in 2002, is 2-6 this year with a 4.57 ERA in 15 starts. In his seven big league seasons, Gorzelanny has posted a 38-43 record and made 110 starts. He was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft.
Left-handed pitcher Mike Zagurski, who pitched at KU from 2004-05, continues to put up impressive numbers for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs – an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. This year in the minors, Zagurski has a 3-0 record with a 2.27 ERA and 10 saves in 39 2/3 innings. He has walked 22 and struck out 49 in 35 appearances. He has pitched in four major league games for the Phillies this season, allowing a two runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings. He was originally selected by Philadelphia in the 12th round of the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft.
Left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman, who pitched at KU in 2008, is on the rise in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization. Freeman was promoted to Double-A Springfield in early May and has posted a 1-2 record with a 4.19 ERA in 38 2/3 innings. He has walked 18 and struck out 33 batters in 36 relief appearances. The 5-foot-11 lefty was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 32nd round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft.
Left-handed pitcher Shaeffer Hall, who pitched at KU from 2008-09, has been on a roll with the Trenton Thunder – an affiliate of the New York Yankees. Hall has won his last four decisions, including Saturday when he pitched seven strong innings against Richmond. Hall is 10-4 on the season with a 4.13 ERA in 19 starts for Trenton. He was called up to Triple-A for one start in early July, and won his debut for Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, allowing two runs on five hits with three strikeouts. The 6-foot-1 lefty was a 25th-round draft pick by the New York Yankees in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft.
Second baseman Erik Morrison, who played at KU from 2005-08, is currently on the seven-day disabled list for the Frisco RoughRiders – an affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Morrison missed the early part of the season due to a death in the family and has played in just one game for Frisco. He was a 48th-round draft pick of the Rangers in 2008.
Right-handed pitcher Paul Smyth, who pitched at KU from 2006-09, is currently playing for the Midland RockHounds – an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Smyth is 5-2 on the season with a 4.59 ERA in 31 appearances out of the bullpen. He has recorded 46 strikeouts to go with 23 walks in 49 innings this season. Smyth was originally a 35th-round draft choice of the Oakland A’s in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft.
Left-handed pitcher Travis Blankenship is in his second season with the Tri-City ValleyCats, a Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. Blankenship has not recorded a decision and has posted a 4.76 ERA in 12 games with the ValleyCats. Blankenship tallied a season-high three strikeouts in back-to-back outings last week and has 20 in 17 innings this year. The 6-foot-1 lefty was a 31st-round selection by the Astros in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Right-handed pitcher Brett Bochy, who pitched at KU from 2008-10, is playing for the Augusta GreenJackets – an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Bochy has made 16 appearances out of the bullpen and is 1-0 with three saves and an ERA of 1.63. In 27 2/3 innings of work, Bochy has struck out 36, walked seven and allowed just five runs on 12 hits. In his last 10 outings he has struck out 13 batters and allowed only two hits. The 6-foot-two righty was a 20th-round draft choice of the Giants in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Outfielder Brian Heere, who played at KU from 2008-10, is with the Lake County Captains – an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Heere has turned things around in the second half of the season. After a slow start, Heere is currently hitting .264 with seven doubles, two homers and 28 RBIs in 58 games. He recorded a three-hit game on Sunday against Lansing and batted .347 during the month of July. Heere was a 41st-round draft pick by the Indians in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Right-handed pitcher Colton Murray, who pitched at KU from 2009-11, is pitching for the Williamsport Crosscutters – the Single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Murray was roughed up a bit in his first few outings, but has recorded scoreless appearances in three of his last four games to lower his season ERA to 3.95. He is 0-2 on the year with eight strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings on the mound. The 6-foot righty was a 13th-round draft choice of the Phillies in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
Infielder Robby Price, who played at KU from 2007-10, is turning his season around for the Bowling Green Hot Rods – an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. After a rough month of June, Price has found his stroke again lately, hitting safely in six-straight games and batting .355 over his last 10 contests. For the season, Price is hitting .271 with 18 doubles, four homers and 64 runs scored. He has also shown some speed on the basepaths, swiping 11 bags in 16 attempts. The 5-foot-11 infielder was a 13th-round draft choice by the Rays in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Right-handed pitcher Cameron Selik, who pitched at KU from 2009-10, was called up in early May to the Single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, the Potomac Nationals. The former Jayhawk is 4-7 on the year with a 4.12 ERA in 13 starts. He has walked 19 and struck out 42 batters in 74 1/3 innings of work. The 6-foot-3 righty was a 22nd-round draft choice of Washington in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Third baseman Tony Thompson, who played at KU from 2008-10, is playing for the Burlington Bees – an affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Thompson has been hot and cold this season at the plate, batting .281 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs. He has hit well every other month, batting .316 in April and .321 in June. Thompson was a sixth-round draft pick of the A’s in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Right-handed pitcher T.J. Walz, who pitched at KU from 2008-11, was recently promoted within the Oakland Athletics’ organization to Burlington, where he joins former KU teammate Tony Thompson. Walz has pitched just one game with his new team, tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings Monday night against Wisconsin. Prior to his promotion, Walz dominated the New York-Penn League, posting a 4-0 record and an 0.41 ERA in 22 innings with the Vermont Lake Monsters. He recorded 27 strikeouts and just three walks in 11 relief appearances. Walz was a 15th-round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
Shortstop Brandon Macias, who played at KU from 2010-11, is playing in the Rookie League for the AZL Brewers – an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization. Macias has gotten on track after a slow start, batting .289 over his last 10 games with three doubles and six RBIs. The 5-foot-10 infielder is batting .238 for the season with seven doubles, a pair of homers and six stolen bases in 28 games. Macias signed as an undrafted free agent with the Brewers organization in June.