LAWRENE, Kan. -
Other signees include left-handed pitcher Kelson Boyer (Eudora, Kan.), outfielder Jason Brunansky (Poway, Calif.), right-handed pitcher Kevin Burk (Warrensburg, Mo.), first baseman Zac Algie (Minot, N.D.), third baseman Jake Marasco (Maize, Kan.), right-handed pitcher Jared Meggison (Des Moines, Iowa), pitcher/second baseman Colton Murray (Olathe, Kan.), pitcher/outfielder Lee Ridenhour (Lenexa, Kan.) and right-handed pitcher Thomas Taylor (Overland Park, Kan.).
"This recruiting class may be the finest in Kansas baseball history," head coach Ritch Price said. "I believe this group of players will help lead KU to multiple NCAA postseason berths and if they continue to work hard and develop their individual skills, several of these young men will play professional baseball upon graduating from the University of Kansas."
Blankenship, a 6-foot-2 left-handed pitcher, was selected first team all-state as well as first team All-Sunflower Conference in 2006 while leading Free State High to a state championship. In his first season at Johnson County Community College last year, he posted a 6-2 record with a 2.86 ERA in 69 innings on the mound. He also had three complete games in his 13 starts.
"Travis is the No. 1 starter at Johnson County, where he plays for former KU team captain, Kent Shelly," Price said. "He will provide depth to our staff and can be used as a starter or out of the bullpen."
Another Kansas native, Eudora's Kelson Boyer, is the most recent addition to the signing class. Boyer, a 2007 first team all-area selection by the Lawrence Journal World, went 9-0 last season with a 1.34 ERA and 59 strikeouts to just four walks. Boyer was also an All-Frontier League first team selection.
"Kelson has a live arm and tremendous upside," Price said. "As he continues to physically mature, he will be a quality guy for us."
Jason Brunansky, a 5-foot-9 outfielder from Poway, Calif., continues KU's trend of a connection to major league baseball under Price. Brunansky is the son of former Twins and Cardinals outfielder Tom Brunansky. Jason hit .371 in 34 games during his junior season. The Poway High School outfielder also collected 16 RBIs, 28 runs scored and eight stolen bases during the 2007 season.
"Jason has a great baseball background and plays in one of the nation's best high school programs," Price said. "He's an excellent outfielder, and a good base-runner with a plus arm. He will contend for a starting spot in center field early in his career at KU."
Kevin Burk, a 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher from Warrensburg, Mo., helped lead his high school to three consecutive West Central Conference Championships and a district championship in 2006. Burk went 5-3 with a pair of saves with a 1.80 ERA and 48 strikeouts last season.
"Kevin is a strike-thrower with command of three pitches," Price said. "We expect him to contribute out of the bullpen as a freshman."
Zach Elgie, a 6-foot-2 first baseman/outfielder from Minot, N.D., set a Minot American Legion record last season, clubbing 34 home runs to finish with a team-record 61 for his three-year career. Elgie, who also holds career records for the Minot Vistas in runs, hits, RBIs and doubles, was the 2007 North Dakota State American Legion Tournament MVP.
"Zac is one of the top power hitting high school players in the country," Price said. "We expect him to hit in the middle of our order and be an impact player immediately."
Jake Marasco, a 6-foot-3 third baseman from Maize, Kan., is Price's second commitment from Maize in as many years. Marasco was named first team all-state in 2006. In his high school career, Marasco has a .435 batting average with three home runs, 44 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.
"Jake is regarded as one of the top hitters in the state of Kansas," Price said. "He will remind KU fans of former Jayhawk great Ryan Baty."
Colton Murray, a 6-foot-1 right-handed pitcher from Olathe, Kan., was the Sunflower League's pitcher of the year, going 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA while striking out 56 and allowing only 21 hits in 39 innings. He was also selected first-team 6A all-state.
"Colton will be a two-way player for us," Price said. "He is an outstanding athlete who will make an immediate impact at KU."
Lee Ridenhour, a 6-foot-3 outfielder from Lenexa, Kan., will also be looked at as a pitcher and an outfielder at KU. Ridenhour will graduate from Shawnee Mission West this spring after four years on the baseball team where he was an all-state outfielder. Along with being named first team all-state, he was selected first team All-Sun Country, first team All-Kansas City Metro and first team All-Johnson County in 2007. Ridenhour hit .493 last season with a pair of home runs and 11 stolen bases. He also posted a 5-0 record on the mound with a 1.40 ERA and five saves.
"Lee is a tremendous talent with the potential to contribute immediately at KU as a freshman both on the mound and in the outfield," Price said.
Thomas Taylor, a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher from Overland Park, Kan., was listed on Perfect Game's National Pitching Prospect list for this season. During his junior year at Blue Valley West, he compiled a 4-2 record with a 3.11 ERA as well as 61 strike outs in 45.0 innings on the mound. He also led his team to a Kansas Class 6A state championship last season.
"Thomas has a great pitcher's body and throws three pitches for strikes," Price said. "He could be in our starting rotation as early as his freshman year."