Jayhawks in the Pros (Update #6)
Aug. 31, 2010
Throughout the course of the 2010 season, kuathletics.com will update the progress of the 15 former Jayhawks who are currently playing within the ranks of professional baseball. With many teams in the dog days of summer, several Kansas products are enjoying a great deal of success. The regular season is nearing a close for several Jayhawks playing within the minor leagues, while a handful are hopeful to receive a call up for the final month of the season in the majors.
Former Kansas left-handed pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, who pitched at KU in 2002, has enjoyed a solid season with the Chicago Cubs. Heading into the last month of the season, Gorzelanny is 7-8 with a 4.66 ERA in 124 1/3 innings pitched, recording 58 walks and 111 strikeouts. On Aug. 21, Gorzelanny earned a victory over the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves, pitching seven innings and allowing one run on seven hits with two walks and a season-high nine strikeouts.
Third baseman Travis Metcalf, who played at KU from 2002-04, has produced a standout season for the Colorado Springs SkySox – an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. As the team’s starting third baseman, Metcalf has batted .296 with 34 doubles, four triples and 10 homers to go along with 65 RBIs, a .361 on-base percentage and a .476 slugging percentage. Over the last 10 games, Metcalf has hit .314 with two doubles and a homer.
Left-handed pitcher Mike Zagurski, who pitched at KU from 2004-05, spent three weeks in the major leagues this season, but has otherwise been pitching for Lehigh Valley – an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. In his time at Lehigh Valley, Zagurski has gone 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 50 games outs of the bullpen. He has allowed 43 hits and 19 earned runs in 50 2/3 innings with 27 walks and 67 strikeouts. Over his last 10 appearances, Zagurski has gone 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA with four walks and 13 strikeouts.
Catcher Buck Afenir, who played at KU from 2006-09, is in his second season in professional baseball and is with the Tri-City ValleyCats – an affiliate of the Houston Astros. This season, Afenir is batting .256 with four doubles and 10 RBIs in 26 games as the team’s backup catcher. In his last start, Afenir went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored in a win over Hudson Valley on Aug. 25.
Left-handed pitcher Travis Blankenship, who pitched at KU from 2009-10, is in his first season of professional baseball with the Tri-City ValleyCats – an affiliate of the Houston Astros. In his rookie year, Blankenship is 2-0 with a 1.30 ERA in 22 appearances out of the bullpen. He has allowed 20 hits and just four earned runs in 27 2/3 innings with 15 walks and 21 strikeouts. Blankenship has allowed just three earned runs in his last 10 appearances.
Left-handed pitcher Nick Czyz, who pitched at KU from 2006-08, is in his third professional season and has split time between High Desert and Clinton – affiliates of the Seattle Mariners. Over the last two months, he has been with the Clinton LumberKings, going 4-5 with a 4.57 ERA in 12 starts. Czyz has pitched 69 innings with Clinton, recording 18 walks and 54 strikeouts. He posted a win over Peoria on Aug. 23, pitching seven innings, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Left-handed pitcher Shaeffer Hall, who pitched at KU from 2008-09, is in his second season in professional baseball and has enjoyed a breakout year for the Tampa Yankees – an affiliate of the New York Yankees. In 13 starts, Hall has gone 9-5 with a 3.95 ERA with 10 walks and 56 strikeouts in 66 innings pitched. Since starting the season 9-1, Hall has been a tough-luck loser on a handful of occasions, including an Aug. 20 start against Clearwater, when the lefty allowed two earned runs on eight hits over five innings.
Outfielder Brian Heere, who played at KU from 2008-10, is a rookie with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers – an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. In his first professional season, Heere is batting .255 with five doubles, two triples, 19 runs scored and three stolen bases in 60 games this year. Heere has found his stroke recently, batting .347 in the month of August with three doubles and a .474 on-base percentage.
Infielder Erik Morrison, who played at KU from 2005-08, is in his third season in professional baseball and is playing with the Bakersfield Blaze – an affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Morrison got off to a slow start this year, but has come back recently. For the season, Morrison is batting .235 with 12 doubles, 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 77 games for the Blaze. Over his last 10 games, Morrison is hitting .270 with three homers and five RBIs.
Outfielder David Narodowski, who played at KU in 2009, is in his second professional season with the South Bend Silver Hawks – an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Narodowski has hit .209 in 81 games this season with 13 doubles, three homers and 25 runs scored. The former Jayhawk hit .395 in the month of July, but has struggled during the month of August.
Infielder Robby Price, who played at KU from 2007-10, has produced a solid rookie season with the Hudson Valley Renegades – an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Price has played in 56 games this season for the Renegades and is batting .294 with 17 doubles, two homers and a .435 on-base percentage and 12 stolen bases. Price has been a steady performer throughout most of the season, but has excelled as of late, batting .333 over his last 10 games with two doubles and two stolen bases.
Right-handed pitcher Cameron Selik, who pitched at KU from 2009-10, bounced back from a rough month of July with a solid August in his rookie year with the Vermont Lake Monsters – an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Selik is 1-0 with a 2.54 ERA in 15 relief appearances for the Monsters this season. He picked up his first professional win on Aug. 1, going 3 1/3 scoreless innings against Lowell. In six August appearances, Selik has allowed two earned runs in 16 innings with two walks and 20 strikeouts.
Right-handed pitcher Paul Smyth, who pitched at KU from 2006-09, has put together a second-straight solid campaign, pitching for the Stockton Ports – an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Smyth is 3-5 with a 2.51 ERA with 27 saves in 55 games. Smyth is tied for second in the California league in saves and has 93 strikeouts, which ranks third among relief pitchers. Over his last 10 appearances, Smyth has nine saves and has an ERA of 2.63.
Third baseman Tony Thompson, who played at KU 2008-10, is going through the typical ups and downs of a rookie campaign with the Vancouver Canadians – an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Thompson is hitting .243 this season with 11 doubles, three homers, 19 RBIs and 29 runs scored. The former Big 12 Triple Crown winner hit .360 over the month of July, but has struggled in August, batting just .153 during the month.