Jayhawks in the Pros, Update No. 1

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the major and minor league seasons underway, players that once donned the Crimson and Blue begin the trek of working their way up the ranks to play at the elite level, the major leagues.
Tom Gorzelanny was the only former Kansas baseball player to crack an Opening Day roster with an MLB club. Gorzelanny debuted with the Detroit Tigers, after playing last season with the Washington Nationals. The lefty played for the Jayhawks in 2002 and is currently in his 11th season in the big leagues. Detroit marks the sixth major league team he’s played for, but spent the majority of his MLB career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Sam Freeman was acquired by the Texas Rangers from the St. Louis Cardinals on March 28th, before being designated for assignment eight days later. The Rangers have until April 15 to either trade, release or send Freeman to the minors. The lefty has spent parts of the past three seasons with the Cardinals and pitched in a career-high 44 games for them last season, including one appearance in the National League Division Series.
The only other Jayhawk to see time in the Bigs last season was Brett Bochy, who made three appearances during the regular season for the eventual World Series Champion San Fransisco Giants. Bochy was sent to the Giants’ triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento RiverCats. Bochy spent most of last season with the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants’ former triple-A affiliate, where he posted a 3.83 ERA in 35 games.
Paul Smyth, a triple-A All-Star last season in the Oakland A’s organization, was recently released and is currently looking to be picked up by a new club.
Two Jayhawks are currently among the double-A ranks. Right-handed pitcher Colton Murray is playing for the Reading Fightin’ Phils in the Philadelphia Phillies organization and fellow righty Tanner Poppe is with the Biloxi Shuckers in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system.
Brandon Macias is the only Kansas player in the advanced-A ranks of the minors, where he is playing with the Brevard County Manatees, part of the Brewers organization.
Three players that once played for KU are gracing the single-A long-season to open the 2015 campaign. Alex DeLeon finds a new home with the Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals) after spending last season in single-A short season with the State College Spikes. Also making a jump to the long-season is Jordan Piche’ who is on the opening roster for the Burlington Bees (Los Angeles Angels) after being drafted by the Angels in the 28th round of last year’s draft and spent the summer in the Arizona Rookie league. Kevin Kuntz is playing for the Lexington Legends (Kansas City Royals) where he batted .300 in 17 games last season.
Three players that were drafted last summer will start the season in single-A short season. Frank Duncan will play for the West Virginia Black Bears in the inaugural season as part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Tucker Tharp is headed back to Brooklyn to play for the Cyclones this season. Tharp played in 66 games for the club last season. Robert Kahana will pitch for the Tri-City ValleyCats in the Houston Astros organization again this season after being promoted to the club from the rookie league midway through the summer last season.
Kansas’ highest draft pick from 2014, Wes Benjamin is still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and has yet to be placed on a roster. Benjamin was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the fifth-round of the draft after his shorted season at KU.
Check back throughout the baseball season to keep tabs on the Jayhawks in the pros and see their progression through the minor and major league ranks.
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