Jayhawks In the Pros - Season Wrap Up

Sept. 30, 2008


Jayhawks In the Pros – Season Wrap Up

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the 2008 major league baseball regular season officially coming to an end this afternoon, kuathletics.com would like to take a final look at the 14 former Jayhawks who played professional baseball this summer. The list includes two members of the National League East champion Philadelphia Phillies, as well as three players who entered the professional ranks this summer after four years in the Crimson and Blue.

“Obviously we were very proud of the success our former players enjoyed in professional baseball this year,” Kansas head coach Ritch Price said. “Playing in the Big 12 Conference completely prepares our guys to compete against the best in the game.”

Not only did Price’s players succeed on the field this year, several of them returned to Kansas for the fall semester to finish their education. This list includes Nick Czyz, Andres Esquibel, Erik Morrison, Kyle Murphy, Ryne Price and Brock Simpson. Morrison, Murphy and Price will all graduate in December.

“I want to thank our Athletic Director, Lew Perkins, for paying for fifth-year scholarships,” Price said. “This allows our players to return to school and finish their degrees.”

– Outfielder John Allman completed his first professional season with the Gulf Coast League Indians batting .315 with two homers and 10 RBIs. Allman – who played at KU from 2005-08 – appeared in 27 games for the Cleveland Indians’ Rookie affiliate.

– Zach Ashwood finished his second season of pro ball in Class A with the Peoria Chiefs, a Chicago Cubs affiliate. The 6-foot-4 lefty, who played at KU in 2007, went 6-10 this season with a 6.24 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 83 2/3 innings.

– Nick Czyz completed his first professional season in Rookie League with the Pulaski Mariners, a Seattle Mariners affiliate. Czyz, who played at KU from 2006-08, impressed in his 14 appearances, going 6-5 with a 4.08 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings. He earned five of his six wins during the second half of the season, helping his team to the Appalachian League’s Eastern Division title.

– Andres Esquibel, a teammate of Czyz’ with the Pulaski Mariners, also put up solid numbers in his first season. The right-handed pitcher, who played at KU from 2007-08, went 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings. He went eight straight appearances without being scored upon from mid-July to mid-August this year, helping Pulaski win the Appalachian League’s Eastern Division title.

– Sam Freeman was promoted to Class A Palm Beach, a St. Louis Cardinals’ affiliate, for the end of the season. Freeman, a left-handed pitcher who played at KU in 2008, made 20 relief appearances in Rookie League for Johnson County and went 4-1 with a 3.70 ERA and two saves. Freeman was invited to attend the Cardinals’ fall instructional league in Jupiter, Fla.

– Left-handed pitcher Tom Gorzelanny had an up-and-down season, pitching in both the major leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates and in Triple-A with Indianapolis. Gorzelanny – who played at KU from 2001-02 – finished the year with Pittsburgh, posting a 6-9 record with a 6.66 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 105 1/3 innings.

– Infielder Travis Metcalf also split time between the major leagues and Triple-A this season. Metcalf, who played at KU from 2002-04, hit .232 with six homers and 14 RBIs in 23 games for the Rangers. During his final 10 games, the former Jayhawk hit five home runs.

– Outfielder Gus Milner kept his career afloat with the Clearwater Threshers, a Class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Milner, who played at KU from 2005-06, hit .261 this year with six home runs, 53 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in a full season with the Threshers.

– Infielder Erik Morrison was drafted in June by the Texas Rangers, and played with the organization’s Rookie and Single-A teams. Morrison, who played at KU from 2005-08, finished the campaign with the Bakersfield Blaze, hitting .236 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 32 games. He hit .316 in his first 27 games with the Arizona League Rangers to start the summer.

– Outfielder Kyle Murphy finished his first full professional season with the Clinton LumberKings, a Class A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Murphy hit .229 with seven RBIs and five stolen bases. He finished the season strong, collecting seven hits in his final 17 at-bats.

– Outfielder Ryne Price missed the last month of the season with an injury, but still managed to impress with the Arizona League Giants, the San Francisco Giants’ Rookie League affiliate. Price, who played at KU from 2005-08, batted .250 with a homer and 16 RBIs in 26 games.

– Outfielder Brock Simpson enjoyed a successful first season in Class A with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Simpson, who played at KU from 2005-07, hit .294 with a pair of homers and 24 RBIs in 60 games for the Scrappers. The former Jayhawk outfielder made the New York-Penn League’s All-Star team, and finished the season strong, going 10-for-33 in his final 10 games.

– Left-handed pitcher Les Walrond was called up to the major leagues in the heat of a pennant race, and helped the Philadelphia Phillies clinch the National League’s Eastern title. Walrond, who played at KU from 1996-98, went 1-1 with the Phillies this season with a 6.10 ERA and 12 strikeouts in six appearances. The former Jayhawk also spent time in Triple-A this year.

– Left-handed pitcher Mike Zagurski missed the entire 2008 season with an injury, but is still on the Philadelphia Phillies’ 40-man roster. Zagurski is hoping to resume pitching this off-season and be ready for spring training.