Jaxx Groshans, Ryan Zeferjahn remain teammates in big leagues
LAWRENCE, Kan. – At the beginning of June, the Kansas baseball team saw two of its players selected in the top-10 rounds of the Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft when the Boston Red Sox selected both junior catcher Jaxx Groshans and junior pitcher Ryan Zeferjahn.
Zeferjahn was taken in the third round and Groshans heard his name called in the fifth round, both by the same team.
The duo has spent the past three years as teammates and a key part of the Kansas battery, with Zeferjahn performing as a starting pitcher during both his sophomore and junior seasons and Groshans starting behind the dish in his junior year for the Jayhawks.
After both Zeferjahn and Groshans were assigned to the Red Sox’s short-season affiliate, the Lowell Spinners in Lowell, Massachusetts, the pair were given the rare opportunity to remain teammates for the beginning of a new chapter in the big leagues.
In an interview with Gershon Rabinowitz at the Baseball Prospect Journal, Zeferjahn said, “It was kind of cool because we had a good bond in Kansas as a pitcher and catcher battery and now it’s pretty cool to play with him again in pro ball.”
In the same interview with Rabinowitz, Groshans added his thoughts on getting drafted by the same team as his starting pitcher, “It’s funny and coincidental how Zeferjahn and I ended up here together with the Red Sox. I was in the dugout, and I was talking about it during our conference tournament. I said our time in Kansas was going to come to an end, so how cool would it be to be on the same team in the future. I did not expect it to become a reality.”
Both Zeferjahn and Groshans have credited Kansas head coach Ritch Price and his coaching style for helping with their development and growth as players, stating that Price’s coaching has made the transition from college to the big leagues a little easier.
"“Our skip, Ritch Price, is one of the best in the business. He treats us like pro guys with the experience we had this year. That really helped us both,” said Zeferjhan. "
“Ritch Price helped me out with strides,” said Groshans. “Coach Price gave me an opportunity to play college baseball when a lot of people wouldn’t. He taught me a lot about being a good human being, in addition to being a good baseball player.”
After spending three years catching Zeferjahn and Groshans have an advantage over most players in their same situation because of their familiarity with each other and their respective pitching and catching styles.
“A pitcher and catcher must be on the same page at all times,” said Zeferjahn. “After three years, he knows exactly what I’m thinking and what pitch I want to throw… Obviously, he caught me in my first game in the pros. It’s very good for a pitcher and a catcher to stay together and click and have each other’s brains picked.”
After being able to catch for Zeferjahn in his debut, Groshans felt that familiar, comfortable feeling. The two being given the opportunity is also a special moment for the Kansas baseball program, who can now watch two of its program standouts continue to play with and support each other at the next level.
“Being able to catch Ryan in his professional debut, felt comfortable. I feel he’s comfortable when I am behind the plate. It made that day a lot better,” Groshans added. “I got a lot of texts from coaches and friends, saying it was a special memory, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It was a huge moment for Kansas having two kids from the program play together at the next level. Having our success will boost recruiting stock for Kansas.”