Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kansas baseball loses signee


Ritch Price figured pitcher Shawn Blackwell was signed, sealed and all but delivered to Kansas University.

Then the Texas Rangers swooped in last week and made Blackwell an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“He was registered, went through orientation, the whole thing,” said KU baseball coach Price. “We’re absolutely shocked.”

Blackwell, a right-hander from League City, Texas, was taken in the 24th round of the June free-agent draft by the Rangers and rejected the club’s first offer to turn pro.

More than two months later, however, Texas upped the ante, and he signed Wednesday. Price said the Rangers gave Blackwell $300,000 after making an initial offer of just $2,500.

“We didn’t expect that kind of money,” Price said. “But did you see the signing bonuses (major-league teams) were handing out before the deadline? Absolutely shocking.”

While hurling for Clear Creek High in League City last spring, Blackwell compiled a 7-4 record with a 2.28 earned-run average. He struck out 90 in 64 innings.

Price projected Blackwell as the Jayhawks’ No. 4 starter at the beginning of the season with an opportunity, if he impressed early, to move into the three-man weekend rotation during Big 12 Conference play.

“Then when he was a sophomore,” Price said, “we saw him as an impact guy for us.”

In addition to Blackwell’s six-figure contract, the Rangers agreed to pay his college tuition.

“For me to skip going to college and missing out on that experience, it had to be a good offer,” Blackwell told the Galveston Daily News. “It had to be worth missing that stuff, and the offer definitely was.”

Price revealed that another KU mound signee, right-hander Tanner Poppe of Girard, received an 11th-hour offer from the Royals after being Kansas City’s 37th-round pick in the June draft.

“Thankfully for us, Poppe turned them down,” Price said. “He moved into the dorm on Saturday.”

Price has opted to split Blackwell’s scholarship money between outfielder Brian Heere and pitcher Brett Bochy.

“At this date, we can’t replace Blackwell,” the KU coach said, “so we rewarded two players coming back.”

Heere, a senior from Lawrence High, was the Jayhawks’ second-leading hitter last spring with a .364 average. He was the team leader in on-base percentage at a glossy .459.

Bochy, a junior right-handed pitcher and son of San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, posted a 5-0 record last spring in 30 mound appearances, all in relief.

In addition to Poppe, Price has three more recruits coming in — shortstop Brandon Macias, infielder Kevin Kuntz and catcher Alex DeLeon.


100 10 years, 9 months ago

Multiple UT grads are in the Rangers organization, and the fanbase is 75% UT driven.

Makes sense the Rangers would buy a player off the Jayhawks staff after the kid has enrolled for fall semester -- lets just say it isn't beneath them obviously -- after we swept them last year in Austin, I guess $300,000 is worth it to "legally" get rid of one of our star players.

Waylon Cook 10 years, 9 months ago

We swept them last year in Lawrence I believe.

jdhawk97 10 years, 9 months ago


I'm not denying that the Rangers organization has a lot of UT grads in it, but as a Jayhawk fan who lives in Dallas, I honestly don't think the Rangers would spend $300,000 on a player simply to get him off of a college team that is the rival (are we really a rival in baseball yet?) to the alma mater of their staff and fans. More likely, the Rangers had some extra money since they did not sign their first round pick, and, since they are always, always short of decent pitching, they decided to maybe overpay for a kid with a lot of potential.

eastTXjayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

agree JD....and as you know, the Rangers are actually struggling financially with Hicks, so they probably had a strict budget for the draft picks, and used some of the money they had left over from missing out on another of their picks. Or maybe The Duke opened his wallet and took out his weekly lunch money...

Ryan Wood 10 years, 9 months ago

100, that might be the stupidest conspiracy theory I have ever heard. Ever. Congratulations.

100 10 years, 9 months ago

Wow RockChalkJeff, you caught on that this was a ridiculously impossible conspiracy theory on my part &, even more thought provoking, that "I am stupid" -- nice job.

I hope your grandchildren can someday rise above your penchant for attacking fellow fans (who are, at times, by the way, trying to lighten things up a bit with ideas that may be completely wrong).

Rock Chalk, Jeff

RckChalkJeff 10 years, 9 months ago

Hopefully your grandchildren can rise above the batch of poor genetic material you are handing down to them.

100 10 years, 9 months ago

Thanks RckChalkJeff,

Great words -- I feel enlightened, like I just spoke to the ghost of Ghandi.

RckChalkJeff 10 years, 9 months ago

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