Kansas battery drafted in top-5 rounds
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the second time in the last three years, the Kansas baseball team saw two of its players selected in the top-10 rounds of the Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft when junior catcher Jaxx Groshans and junior righty Ryan Zeferjahn heard their names called Tuesday afternoon.
Zeferjahn was picked 107th overall in the third round, while Groshans was No. 167 in the fifth round – both swooped up by the Boston Red Sox.
“It was a great day for both young men,” head coach Ritch Price said. “I am thrilled for both of them. To be picked by the World Champions and such a historic franchise as the Boston Red Sox is special. Both are completely prepared and ready to chase their dreams of playing in the MLB.”
Zeferjahn spent three seasons at Kansas in a starting role with the last two years in the weekend rotation, highlighted by a 5-2 junior campaign.
Zeferjahn paced the Jayhawks in 2019 with his second-straight 100-plus strikeout season to become the first player in 129 years of Kansas baseball to post two or more 100-strikeout campaigns, doing it in consecutive years. He finished the season with 107 K’s, including 60 during conference play, to rank third amongst starters in the Big 12.
His 260-career strikeouts rank him third all-time in the KU record book behind Frank Duncan (269) and T.J. Walz (307), both of whom boasted four-year careers.
Zeferjahn finished the 2019 regular-season third in the Big 12 in strikeouts (101), second in opponent batting average (.182), and top-10 in earned-run average (3.38) and innings pitched (82.2).
“It’s just a surreal moment when you get that call and then see it on tv – it’s awesome!” Zeferjahn said. “All the time my parents have spent with me, taking me everywhere and all the work I’ve put in has finally paid off. The coaches at Kansas have really helped me mature as a baseball player and gave me the best opportunity to succeed, and I thank all of them for everything they’ve done.”
Exactly two rounds later, Zeferjahn’s battery mate for three years, Groshans, heard his name called by the same team, capping off a strong three years as the Jayhawks’ pitcher/catcher duo.
Groshans went deep six times in 20 at-bats the first six games of 2019, besting his combined home run total (5) from his freshman and sophomore seasons. He ranked high among NCAA Division I catchers in home runs and walks, finishing with 12 and 53, respectively.
His 53 free passes made him the first player in the Rich Price era and the first Jayhawk in 24 years to record 50 or more walks in a single season, and rank him third in the KU history books. Groshans’ offensive output steadily increased during his three seasons finishing his junior campaign with a .340 average (67-for-197) with 14 doubles, one triple, 12 home runs, 46 RBIs, a .604 slugging percentage and a .475 on-base percentage.
Zeferjahn and Groshans became the 30th and 31st players, respectively, in Kansas history to be drafted in the top-10 rounds of the MLB Draft – including the secondary draft during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. They also round out a group of 11 players to don that honor in the Price era. The Jayhawks have now seen seven players selected in the top-10 rounds in the last six years, as Wes Benjamin (2014, 5th), Michael Tinsley (2016, 7th), Blake Weiman (2017, 8th), Stephen Villines (2017, 10th) and Jackson Goddard (2018, 3rd) were also picked that high.