KU to host "Jayhawks For A Cure" Saturday vs. Oklahoma State
Jayhawks preview 2013 season
By Kelli Hamman, Kansas Media Relations
Ryan Graves, former All-Big 12 pitcher and a graduate of Oklahoma State, is entering his 10th season as an assistant coach under Ritch Price and seventh as the team's pitching coach. Graves is in charge of developing KU's pitchers and also works with the team's catchers.
Prior to the 2011 season, Graves was promoted to Associate Head Coach, making him one of just four baseball coaches in the Big 12 to hold that title. Graves came to Kansas with Price in 2003 and served as the team's volunteer assistant for three season, before becoming a full-time assistant coach in 2006.
Despite losing several key pitchers to the draft, Graves helped the Jayhawks stay competitive on the mound in 2011. KU posted a 4.16 ERA, which ranked seventh in the Big 12. It marked the fourth time in Graves' tenure that the team had recorded a team ERA below 5.00.
Graves had three pitchers selected in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft in senior T.J. Walz (15th round, Oakland), junior Colton Murray (13th round, Philadelphia) and sophomore Tanner Poppe (37th round, Tampa Bay). Poppe opted to return to KU for his junior season.
One of Graves' top students - righty T.J. Walz - became KU's all-time leader in strikeouts (306), innings pitched (328.1), starts (50) and tied the team record for wins (26).
Graves helped the Jayhawks to their second-straight trip to the Big 12 Championship in 2010 with a patchwork pitching staff which lost two key members to injury during the season. Junior starting pitcher T.J. Walz won eight games for the second year in a row, while he, senior Cameron Selik and junior relief pitcher Brett Bochy were each named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week at one point during the year.
Four of Graves' pitchers: Travis Blankenship, Bochy, Selik and Walz, were drafted with three of them signing pro contracts following the season.
Graves' pitching staff posted a 4.46 team ERA in 2009, which ranked second in the Big 12 and was the lowest by a Jayhawk team since 1994. The staff also allowed just 2.91 walks per nine innings, which ranked 17th nationally.
Individually, junior Shaeffer Hall tossed the fifth no-hitter in team history against Air Force on opening day, and then blanked Dartmouth at the NCAA Tournament to become the first KU pitcher to record multiple complete game shutouts in the same season since 2000. Sophomore T.J. Walz went 8-3 as the Saturday starter, with his eight wins tying for the 12th most in team history. Freshman Lee Ridenhour's six wins were the most by a KU freshman since 1980.
Injuries took their toll on the Kansas pitching staff in 2008 as two of the Jayhawks' three weekend starters missed over half of the season. However, it didn't stop the KU staff from showing flashes of brilliance throughout the year. Junior Paul Smyth was among the league-leaders in saves throughout the season, finishing with 10 - the third-most by a KU closer in school history.
Despite working with a young starting rotation that featured two sophomores and a freshman, the Jayhawks posted a sub-5.00 ERA for the third consecutive season, in 2007. It marked the first time the Jayhawks have accomplished this feat since the 1977-79 seasons.
In 2006, Graves coached a pitching staff which included National College Baseball Writer's Association Stopper of the Year Don Czyz, as well as MLB Draft picks Kodiak Quick and Sean Land. Czyz became KU's first All-American since 1996, leading the NCAA in saves with 19.
Graves helped KU land a solid 2005 recruiting class that was rated 17th in the country by StudentSportsBaseball.com.
Graves joined the Kansas baseball staff on August 26, 2002, after spending three seasons with Price at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Graves worked with the team's pitching staff and also served as recruiting coordinator. Graves was responsible for spearheading the team's recruiting efforts and helped land a recruiting class ranked by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper as one of the Top 50 in the nation.
Prior to his stint at Cal Poly, Graves was an assistant coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, Okla., from 1998-99. He got his start in coaching as an assistant at Riverside Polytechnic High School from 1997-98.
Graves had an outstanding playing career at both Loyola Marymount from 1993-95 and at OSU in 1996. At Loyola Marymount, Graves earned All-West Coast Conference Second Team honors in 1994 and Honorable Mention accolades in 1993.
In his one season at Oklahoma State, Graves led the Cowboys to the 1996 College World Series by defeating No. 1 USC in the regional finals. OSU then faced Alabama and Clemson in the CWS at Rosenblatt Stadium.
During the 1996 season, Graves posted 10 wins and 104 strikeouts in 113.2 innings. His 104 k's and 113.2 innings pitched still rank in the top 15 in Oklahoma State history.
Upon graduation, Graves played one season in the Chicago Cubs organization. After a short stint with the Williamsport, Pa., Cubs, he was promoted to Daytona, Fla., and eventually finished the season with the Double-A Orlando Cubs.
Graves and his wife Lisa reside in Lawrence. The couple has a five-year old son, Kyle Matthew, as well as a three-year old son, Benjamin James.