Kansas Baseball: Jayhawks in the Pros Update No. 1

LAWRENCE, Kan. – As June comes to an end, baseball players who once donned the Crimson and Blue for Kansas are scattered throughout the country trying to make a name for themselves in the pros.

The six Jayhawks selected in the 2014 MLB draft have all signed with their clubs.

Wes Benjamin, drafted by the Texas Rangers in the fifth round, signed a contract with the club and received a $125,000 signing bonus. Benjamin is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in Arizona at the Rangers’ spring training facilities.

Frank Duncan is pitching for the Jamestown Jammers, a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate, in the Class-A Short-Season New York-Pennsylvania League (NYPL). Duncan has pitched in two games for the Jammers, giving up 10 hits in seven innings of work.

Michael Suiter, drafted in the 24th round by the Chicago White Sox, is playing in the Arizona Rookie League, posting a .500 batting average after two games.
Jordan Piche’ is pitching in the Arizona Rookie League, after being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 28th round.

Tucker Tharp is trying to settle in with the Brooklyn Cyclones, a New York Mets affiliate in the NYPL, after being drafted in the 30th round. Tharp is currently batting .191 through 12 games with the Cyclones.

Robert Kahana is displaying his talents in the Appalachian League for rookies. Kahana is pitching for the Greeneville Astros, and has a 1-0 record and 0.00 ERA in the one game he has pitched.

Other past KU players, like the 2014 draftees, are in full swing in the pros, competing to get to the next level.

Alex DeLeon is off to a hot start for the State College Spikes (St. Louis Cardinals affiliate) of the NYPL. DeLeon has appeared in eight games for the Spikes, posting a .233 batting average. He had a breakout game on June 22, where he hit three home runs as the Spikes beat the Batavia Muckdogs, 10-3. Not only was it DeLeon’s first three home run game, but it was the first time a State College player has accomplished the feat.

“It was probably my first three-homer game in my life. I had a few multi-homer games, but never three,” said DeLeon in a postgame interview with Kelsie Heneghan of MiLB.com.

Robby Price has totaled 12 RBIs in 39 games for the Durham Bulls, Triple-A (AAA) affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Price has been able to gain playing time from his versatility, and has so far played five positions for the Bulls, including two and one-third innings of work on the mound.

Along with Price, four other Jayhawks have spent time in AAA this year. Brett Bochy has pitched 36 and two-thirds innings for the San Francisco Giants’ affiliate Fresno Grizzlies, striking out 37 batters on his way to a 3.19 ERA. Mike Zagurski is trying to find his way back to “the show,” now pitching for the Buffalo Bisons, after being traded from the Cleveland Indians’ organization to the Toronto Blue Jays. Zagurski has posted a 3.25 ERA in 27 and two-thirds innings in AAA this season, striking out 39 batters.

Sam Freeman is one of two former Kansas players to see action in the MLB this year but has split time between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Memphis Redbirds. Freeman has pitched 14 and one-third innings over 13 relief appearances for the Cardinals, posting a 1.88 ERA. He has a 3.54 ERA for Memphis, making 16 appearances for the AAA club this season.

Tom Gorzelanny is only other Jayhawk to see action in the MLB this year, but started the season on a rehab assignment with the Brevard County Manatees in Advanced-A ball after a procedure to repair his rotator cuff and labrum in his throwing shoulder. Gorzelanny pitched three games with the Manatees before he was moved to the AAA Nashville Sounds. He pitched in seven games for the Sounds before his 30-day rehab assignment was up, only allowing one earned run in nine and two-thirds innings for a 0.93 ERA. He has pitched in four games for the Milwaukee Brewers since returning from his rehab assignment, tossing a total of three and one-third innings and not allowing an earned run.

To keep up to date with the Jayhawks in the pros, check back throughout the course of the summer for more stats and information on the former KU players.