Kansas Baseball Inks 11 Players During Early Signing Period

Nov. 17, 2004


University of Kansas head baseball coach Ritch Price announced on Wednesday that he has accepted letters-of-intent from 11 student-athletes who will join the Kansas baseball program for the 2005-2006 academic year.

The group includes four players from the state of Kansas and two from neighboring Missouri. The class features seven high school signees and four players who join the Jayhawks from the junior college ranks. Studentsportsbaseball.com ranked the group as the 17th best recruiting class in the country.

“When I became the head coach at Kansas two years ago, my goal was to build a top 25 program at KU,” said Price. “After back-to-back 30-win seasons, being able to land a Top 25 recruiting class as rated by studentsprotsbaseball.com, which runs the Area Code games, the top high school recruiting showcase in the country, is very rewarding. This is the finest recruiting class that I’ve been associated with in my 11 years at the Division I level. I would like that thank our administration, alumni, coaches and players for making this day possible. The future of Kansas Baseball is `Big Time.'”

Buck Afenir (AF-ner) (C) Escondido, Calif.

Team captain and team MVP at Escondido High School, where he was also named all-league for the last two seasons.

“Buck is one of the top five catchers on the West Coast,” said Price. “He is the nephew of former major league catcher Troy Afenir and his dad is the head baseball coach at Escondido High School. Growing up in a baseball family, Buck has a great feel for the game. He is an outstanding receiver with a plus arm. We expect him to become an impact player at KU.”

Nick Czyz (CHEZ) (LHP) Overland Park, Kan.

Is the brother of current KU pitcher Don Czyz,” said Price. “Recorded an 8-0 pitching record with one save, while collecting a 1.46 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings pitched in 2004. Posted a .308 batting average at the plate with 11 RBI and was named as first team all-state.

“Nick is the top high school pitcher in the state of Kansas,” said Price. “He has the physical and mental abilities to be a weekend starter in the Big 12 as a freshman. Before he is done, Nick could develop into one of the best pitchers in Kansas history.”

Lee Epps (3B/RHP) Merriam, Kan.

Collected a .515 batting average and a .879 slugging percentage with five home runs during his junior season at Shawnee Mission North High School. Epps registered a 6-3 record with a 3.07 ERA on the mound in 2004.

“Lee is possibly a two-way guy for us, in the mold of former Jayhawk Kevin Wheeler,” said Price. “He is coming off an outstanding high school and summer season and should only continue to get better.”

Ross Kelling (1B) Kansas City, Mo.

Batted .363 with nine home runs and 56 RBI in 152 at bats as a freshman at Maple Woods Community College in 2003-2004. During his prep career, he was a two time an all-state selection at St. Pius High School in Kansas City, Mo.

“Ross is a key recruit for us to replace our two senior first basemen,” said Price. “At 6’4″ and 245 lbs., we expect the left-handed hitter to bat in the middle of our line-up and to provide some big-time pop.”

Preston Land (RHP/1B) Lees Summit, Mo.

Four-year letterwinner at Lees Summit High School, where he has compiled a career batting average of .354 and a 2.95 career ERA. The brother of current Jayhawk pitcher Sean Land, he has also collected 203 career strikeouts in 238 innings of work during his high school career.

“Preston should come in and compete for playing time at first base and out of the bullpen,” said Price. “He is a lot like his brother Sean, big and strong and could be a legitament two-way guy as a freshman.”

Andy Marks (LHP/OF/1B) St. Louis, Mo.

Was named Conference Player of the Year and Conference Tournament MVP in 2004 after batting .459 with two home runs and 17 RBI. Also compiled a 9-1 pitching record with a 1.87 ERA in 2004 for Oakville High School.

“Andy was a great sign for KU,” said Price. “He picked us over the University of Missouri, and we expect him to compete for a weekend starting pitching role as a freshman. He has excellent stuff and the mental toughness to be an impact pitcher in the Big 12 as a freshman.”

Kyle Murphy (OF) Beloit, Wis.

Helped lead Indian Hills Community College to the junior college World Series, and was named to the World Series All-Tournament Team. Batted .349 with five home runs, 28 RBI and 12 stolen bases as a freshman.

“Kyle is coming off an outstanding freshman season at Indian Hills Community College,” said Price. “He is an excellent centerfielder, who runs well and has a plus arm. We may lose all three of our starting outfielders in the pro draft, so Kyle is important because he has the tools to start at any one of the three outfield positions.”

Steven Smith (LHP) Carmi, Ill.

Smith was a four-sport athlete (football, baseball, basketball, track) at Carmi White County High School and was selected as a GRAC All-Star following the 2004 season at Wabash Valley Junior College.

“Steven is a young man who came very highly regarded,” said Price. “He has a fastball in the 87-89 MHP range with outstanding offspeed stuff. He should be an impact player for us.”

Paul Smyth (RHP) Atascadero, Calif.

A first team all-conference and first team all-county selection at Atascadero High School. Posted a 13-3 record with 13 saves for the Firestone Rangers in 2004. Was a teammate of current KU freshmen Eric Morrison and Ryne Price on the Firestone Rangers 2003 USBF National Championship team.

“Paul had tremendous success in high school and with the Rangers during the summer,” said Price. “He has excellent stuff and great make-up. We expect him to develop into our closer at some point during his career.”

Ryan Anthony (LHP) Overland Park, Kan.

Was named honorable mention All-Sunflower League and was selected All-Sun County following his junior season at Shawnee Mission South High School. Had an outstanding summer for the K.C. Sluggers baseball club.

“Ryan is a top five pitcher in the state of Kansas,” said Price. “He has an outstanding body and should continue to blossom in college. He has a bright future at KU.”

Dylan Parzyk (par-ZIC) (C) Vista, Calif.

Batted .336 as a freshman at Palomar College. Defensively, Parzyk threw out 21 of 33 baserunners attempting to steal. Was a first team all-state selection. Finished runner-up for conference Player of the Year honors.

“Dylan was a key guy for us during the recruiting process,” said Price. “With the loss of our top three catchers to graduation, he will combine with Buck Afenir to give us the best depth behind the plate that we have had since I took over the program.”