Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Zagurski picked by Philadelphia


It's pretty safe to say that Mike Zagurski is just one of those roll-with-the-punches type of guys.

Going into Tuesday's baseball draft, the Kansas University senior left-hander made no expectations for himself.

He found out late in the afternoon from a couple of buddies following the draft's progress online that he was the Philadelphia Phillies' 12th-round selection. His contract will be overnighted, and literally a few days from now, he'll begin his professional baseball career in one of the team's Class A affiliates in either Florida or New York.

"I went in open-minded, and hoped to be picked on the first day," Zagurski said.

Zagurski, who found out about the pick while driving home to Omaha, Neb., was the only Jayhawk selected in the first 18 rounds on the draft's first day. The final 32 rounds will be this afternoon.

"I called him to congratulate him," KU coach Ritch Price said. "I thought he was going to go first 15 rounds. He was getting a bunch of phone calls two days ago."

Zagurski was caught off guard when the Phillies called. He said he'd received interest recently from the Marlins, Angels, Brewers and Athletics, but Philadelphia liked the fact he was a southpaw and could log plenty of innings.

Price said that aside from Zagurski finishing the season with four straight wins against conference opponents, his May 7 outing against Texas on national television probably put him over the top. Zagurski threw 71â3 innings, surrendering just five hits, one unearned run, one walk and striking out six.

Fellow KU senior Sean Richardson, a speedy catcher who could be an outfielder, along with junior outfielders A.J. Van Slyke and Gus Milner all had first-day hopes, but their names never were called. Junior pitcher Kodiak Quick also came into the draft with an outside shot during the first day.

All four could be selected today. Richardson and Van Slyke are expected to go pro, while Milner more than likely now will be returning to Hoglund Ballpark for one more spring. And Price also knows that Quick will be back as well, which could make a team that emerged late in the Big 12 Conference season an even bigger force in 2006.

"I understand the disappointment," Price said. "The big one for us was Kodiak Quick. There's no way he'll sign if he's selected tomorrow."

Price said Van Slyke is eager just to get selected. He likely will be picked today not only based on his monster junior season, but also partly on his pedigree. His dad, Andy Van Slyke, played 14 years in the majors, the majority of that time with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Also Tuesday:

¢ Nebraska senior first baseman Curtis Ledbetter, who anchored Lawrence High's 2000 Class 6A state championship squad, was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 18th round.

¢ A.J. Van Slyke's younger brother, Scott Van Slyke, who just finished his senior season of high school, was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 14th round.


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