During the course of the season kuathletics.com will check in with the 13 former Jayhawks who are currently playing in the professional ranks.
Tom Gorzelanny continues his mastery of National League hitters this season. The 6-foot-2 lefty, who played at KU in 2002, is 9-4 with a 3.24 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 125 innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Gorzelanny is looking to become the first Jayhawk to win 10+ games and record 100+ strikeouts in a major league season since Steve Renko accomplished the feat for the Montreal Expos in 1974.
Mike Zagurski continues to be a strong option out of the Philadelphia Phillies’ bullpen. The 6-foot lefty sports a 4.41 ERA with a 1-0 mark for the Phillies this season. Zagurski, who holds the KU record for strikeouts in a season, has fanned 16 batters in 16.1 innings this season. In his latest outing, Zagurski struck out a pair of Cardinals in an inning of scoreless relief on Sunday.
Travis Metcalf was recalled from AA in early June and has split time at third base with Ramon Vazquez. The 6-foot-3 infielder, who played at KU from 2002-04, is batting .175 in 22 games for the Texas Rangers this season. However, he has shown signs of getting on track lately, going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored in a July 6 game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Left-handed pitcher Les Walrond has been a solid starter for the Iowa Cubs, the AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, this season. Walrond, who played at KU from 1996-98, is 8-4 with a 4.93 ERA in 18 starts for Iowa, including a 7-2 mark with a 4.15 ERA at home.
Shortstop John Nelson joined former KU teammate Les Walrond on the Iowa Cubs’ roster after a trade on July 4. Nelson, who played at KU from 1998-2001, wasted little time in making a name for himself, going 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs and three RBIs in the Cubs’ July 8 win over New Orleans. Nelson has played in six games for his new team and has three extra base hits.
Left-handed pitcher Zach Ashwood is also in the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system, with A affiliate Boise. Since signing with the club in mid-June, the 6-foot-4 lefty has made seven appearances, including two starts. Ashwood, who played at KU this past season, is 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 16 innings. He earned his first professional win on July 9, pitching three strong innings of relief against Tri-City.
Right-handed pitcher Don Czyz has been finding his groove recently, allowing just one earned run in his last six appearances for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the A affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Czyz is 2-4 this season with a 4.21 ERA in 34 appearances out of the bullpen. He was the NCBWA Stopper of the Year and a Rawlings First Team All-American in 2006 at KU, his fourth and final season with the Jayhawks.
Outfielder Gus Milner may be looking for a second-half promotion after a solid first half with the Lakewood Blueclaws, the A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Milner, who played at KU from 2005-06, is batting .295 this season with six home runs, 22 doubles and 50 RBIs in 88 games for Lakewood. Over his last four games, Milner is 8-for-16 with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs to lead the surging Blueclaws.
Outfielder Kyle Murphy is still trying to find his stroke in his first season with the Spokane Indians, the A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. In 16 games, Murphy is batting .194 with four doubles and two triples. On Saturday, however, Murphy went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. Despite his batting average being below .200, Murphy’s on-base percentage is still at .306.
Infielder Jared Schweitzer continues to swing a hot bat for the Swing of Quad Cities, the A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Schweitzer has hit safely in each of his last six games, including a 4-for-4 effort at Peoria on Thursday. Schweitzer, who played at KU from 2004-06, is batting .286 this season with nine home runs, 25 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 52 games.
Outfielder A.J. Van Slyke has enjoyed success with the Palm Beach Cardinals, the A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, this season. Van Slyke, who played at KU from 2004-05, is batting .260 with 13 doubles, three home runs and 28 runs scored for Palm Beach. Van Slyke is also third on the team with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts. He had a hit and drove in a run in Palm Beach’s 6-0 win over Lakewood on July 15.