Five Kansas baseball players and one future Jayhawk selected in the draft
Former Kansas lefty pitches scoreless inning of relief against Detroit Monday
Kansas knocks off TCU, will face OU Sunday at 1 p.m.
Kansas awaits decision from NCAA Tournament Selection Committee
Kansas will face TCU Saturday with a chance to move into the championship game
One of the top coaches and recruiters in the country, Ritch Price begins his 10th season at the University of Kansas looking for continued excellence. Price is the only coach in KU history to lead the Jayhawks to a conference championship and multiple NCAA Tournament appearances in his tenure.
Price has led the Jayhawks to 30-plus wins in seven of his first nine years at KU, while the team reached the 40-win plateau for just the third time in school history in 2006. That season, the Jayhawks won 43 games - the second most in school history - and won KU's first conference championship in baseball in over 50 years.
Known around the collegiate baseball community as a tireless worker and enthusiastic recruiter, Price was named the 32nd head baseball coach at the University of Kansas on July 1, 2002.
He has rewarded the program with two trips to the NCAA Regionals during his tenure, in 2006 and 2009, which doubled the NCAA Tournament appearances the program achieved in nearly 100 years before Price. The 2009 Jayhawks advanced to the Chapel Hill Region championship, falling to eventual College World Series participant North Carolina.
Price at Kansas
Senior right-handed pitcher T.J. Walz made headlines during the season. Walz became KU's all-time leader in strikeouts (307), innings pitched (328 1/3), game started (50) and tied for the school lead in wins (26). Following the season, Walz was one of three Jayhawk pitchers drafted by a major league organization, taken in the 15th round by the Oakland Athletics.
Junior Colton Murray was also selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 13th round, while sophomore Tanner Poppe - who will return to KU for his junior season - was drafted in the 37th round by the Tampa Bay Rays.
During his tenure at KU, Price has had 39 players either drafted or signed by professional organizations.
Kansas took two-of-three from defending national champion LSU in Baton Rouge, La., in March and earned a three-game sweep over Border Showdown rival Missouri for the first time since 1994. The Jayhawks also earned the program's first series win at Baylor in March, taking two of three from the Bears.
Two of KU's brightest stars - outfielder Brian Heere and second baseman Robby Price - each earned All-Big 12 first team honors, while third baseman Tony Thompson also garnered all-conference mention from different publications.
Following the season, a record seven Jayhawks were selected in the 2010 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Thompson was taken by the Oakland A's in the sixth-round, which was the highest a Jayhawk has gone in the draft since the 2000 season. Robby Price (13th round), pitcher Brett Bochy (20th round), pitcher Cameron Selik (22nd round), pitcher Travis Blankenship (31st round), Heere (41st round) and pitcher T.J. Walz (50th round) joined Thompson during the three-day event.
KU placed fourth in the final Big 12 standings - the Jayhawks' best finish in the conference since its inception in 1996. Sophomore third baseman Tony Thompson also made conference history by becoming the first player to win the Big 12 Triple Crown - leading the league in batting average (.389), home runs (21) and RBIs (82) at season's end.
Thompson was one of four Jayhawks selected to all-conference teams, and was the school's first All-American since Don Czyz in 2006.
KU's final win of the regular season - a 17-7 rout of K-State - marked KU's 25th victory at Hoglund Ballpark in 2009, which is the second-most by any Kansas team in one season. The team's .893 winning percentage at home was also the highest in team history as the team went 25-3 in its home games.
Following the season, four Jayhawks were selected in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, including Hall in the 16th round by the New York Yankees.
Six Jayhawks -- Buck Afenir, John Allman, Erik Morrison, Robby Price, Ryne Price and Paul Smyth -- were named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. Senior infielder Justin Ellrich was selected Academic All-America, becoming the first Jayhawk to achieve this honor since Pete Smart in 2001.
Price also had six players from the 2008 squad get drafted or sign with professional organizations.
But perhaps the highest honor bestowed on Price during the 2008 season was the induction he received into the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in May, 2008. He earned the Hall of Fame Honor for his eight seasons spent at De Anza Community College in Cupertino, Calif.
The Kansas coach's season didn't end in May, however. Prior to the 2008 season, Price was named an assistant coach on the USA Baseball National Team. During the summer tour, Price helped lead the Americans to a perfect 24-0 record, and their third straight FISU World Championship. Team USA defeated Cuba twice during the tour, marking the first time an American Collegiate National team has accomplished this feat.
The Jayhawks also had six players earn All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, including Price's two sons, Ryne and Robby.
For the fourth year in a row, Price's team had at least four players selected in the Major League Baseball draft in June, and three -- Zach Ashwood, Kyle Murphy and Brock Simpson -- signed professional contracts.
The Jayhawks advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 1994 and defeated 25th-ranked Hawaii on the first day of competition. KU's talent was obvious, but was highlighted once again during the MLB Amateur Draft in June. Six Jayhawks were selected by Major League organizations during the two-day draft.
The Jayhawks continued to pile on the accolades after the season as well. Senior relief pitcher Don Czyz was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association Stopper of the Year and became the first Jayhawk to garner All-America honors since 1996. Senior outfielder Matt Baty was named the Big 12 Championship's Most Valuable Player, while five other KU players earned all-conference honors.
The Jayhawks won 43 games in 2006 - the most by a KU team since 1993. Included in the 43 victories were wins at No. 8 Stanford, No. 2 Clemson, No. 18 Baylor and No. 2 Nebraska. The Jayhawks also won home games against No. 13 Wichita State, No. 29 Missouri, No. 26 Texas Tech and No. 8 Oklahoma during the regular season. KU earned series wins at No. 8 Stanford and against nationally-ranked Texas Tech and Missouri.
Kansas had five players named either Big 12 Player or Pitcher of the Week during the year. At the conclusion of the season, 11 KU players were named All-Big 12 Second Team or Honorable Mention and outfielder A.J. Van Slyke became the second Jayhawk ever to be named All-Big 12 First Team. In addition, four Jayhawks were selected in the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft.
During 2004, sophomore outfielder Matt Baty became the first Jayhawk to be selected All-Big 12 First Team. Joining Baty on the All-Big 12 teams were sophomore shortstop Ritchie Price and junior catcher Sean Richardson, who earned second team honors.
Not only did he lead the Jayhawks to their first winning season in five years, but Price was also the driving force behind KU's run to its first Big 12 Championship appearance. The first-year Kansas skipper made a habit of setting school firsts in 2003, including KU's first ever road series sweep of a Top-10 opponent as the Jayhawks topped perennial power LSU in a three-game set in Baton Rouge. College Baseball Insider tabbed KU the National Team of Week following the sweep of LSU. He also molded the Jayhawk defense into the best-ever at Kansas, setting a team fielding percentage of .970, which also was tops in the Big 12 Conference.
Under the guidance of Price in 2003, rookie Ritchie Price shattered the freshman record for hits in a season with 75. In addition, KU boasted five Big 12 Players/Pitchers of the Week.
Price has a collegiate head coaching career record of 774-615-3 (.557) in 28 combined years at Kansas, Cal Poly, De Anza Community College and Menlo College, and has developed a reputation as a coach who builds baseball programs. After turning Menlo College into a winner from 1983-86, he put De Anza Community College on the map with four conference titles during his eight-year reign. Price was named head coach at Cal Poly on July 26, 1994, and was chosen to guide the Mustangs from NCAA II into the Division I era. After success at Cal Poly, Price was named the head coach at Kansas in 2002.
Price has been named conference coach of the year nine times during his time as a leader on the diamond. His first collegiate honor came in 1986 when he guided Menlo College to one of the best seasons in school history. He was named Coach of the Year in the Coast Conference four times during his eight seasons at De Anza Community College and was also the top coach in the Western Athletic Conference at Cal Poly in 1996. Cal Poly recorded 21 wins in its inaugural D-I season, defeating several NCAA Tournament teams and sweeping WAC rivals Hawaii and San Diego State.
In 1996, the Mustangs finished with a 30-23 record (.566) and a third-place league finish. The team closed the year strong by winning 11 of its last 13 contests to finish just three games out of first place.
In 1997, Cal Poly moved to the Big West Conference as Price led the Mustangs to a 37-21 (.638) mark, their best record during his career. Mustang hitters ravaged the record book that season, breaking 10 school records with three future professionals, six All-Big West members and the league's batting champion.
The 2000 season resulted in a 32-24 mark and a tie for third place in the Big West while Price's 2001 squad finished 30-26. In 2002, Price guided the team to its third-straight 30-win season by finishing 30-29-1. On the 2002 squad was junior Kevin Correia, a fourth-round pick by the San Francisco Giants. On July 10, 2003, he became the first player drafted in 2002 to reach the big leagues. Price has turned many of his athletes into professional baseball players. During his eight-year coaching tenure at Cal Poly, 21 former players continued their careers by signing professional contracts.
Prior to his time at Cal Poly, Price served as director of athletics for five years (1988-94) and head baseball coach for eight seasons at De Anza Community College in Cupertino, Calif. During his tenure, the Dons won four Coast Conference titles -- the first in 1988, then three in a row from 1992-94. Price's Dons were dominant from 1992-94, posting a 107-36 (.760) record. Price was named Coast Conference Coach of the Year each of those seasons. A total of 61 players earned scholarships to Division I programs. Price also guided and developed former St. Louis Cardinal Jason Simontacchi who broke into the big leagues on May 4, 2002.
After stints as a high school coach in Phoenix, Ore., and Jasper, Texas, Price served as head baseball coach and assistant football coach at Menlo College from 1983-86. He was named Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 1986.
Price and his wife, Cindy, have three sons, Ritchie, Ryne and Robby. All three boys played four seasons for their father at Kansas, and were drafted by major league organizations. Ritchie is an assistant coach at KU, while Robby is in the minor leagues in the Tampa Bay Rays' organization.