Czyz Selected by Marlins

The best closer in Kansas baseball history – and perhaps this year's top closer in America – had a dream come true on Tuesday afternoon. Don Czyz, a senior from Overland Park, KS, was selected by the Florida Marlins in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft as the 215th overall pick.

By being selected in the seventh round, Czyz became the highest KU draft pick of the Ritch Price era and is the highest Jayhawk to be selected since Brandon O’Neal in 2000.  After leading the country with 19 saves this season, Czyz was told that he would likely be drafted between rounds five and ten.  So, the round he was selected in did not come as a surprise to Czyz, but the team that did the picking did catch the KU closer a bit off guard.

“They weren’t too close on the radar at all,” Czyz said, comparing the Marlins to the other teams that had expressed the most interest.  “There were about six others that were pretty interested.  To me it was definitely a shock to see that it was the Marlins that had chosen me, but I think it was a good fit.”

Some thought a good fit for the Blue Valley High School standout would have been his hometown Kansas City Royals, but Czyz said they were not among the most interested teams.

“No, the Royals were not (one of the most interested organizations).  They were the Indians, Pirates, Reds, Tigers and Cardinals.  There might be a couple of more but that doesn’t matter at this point.”

All that matters now is a chance to join the Marlins organization and perhaps become KU’s first player under Ritch Price to make it to the big leagues.  Before that happens though, Czyz could hear his name called one more time – during Wednesday’s announcement of the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, an award that is presented annually to the nation’s top closer.  Many feel Czyz’s 19 saves, perfect 6-0 record and ERA of 1.56 will be enough to help him beat out the other four finalists.  While winning that award would be a huge thrill for Czyz, he’s just happy to have the uncertainty of the MLB Amateur Draft now out of the way.  For someone who has given Kansas a great deal of relief over the past four seasons, he’s finally experiencing a little relief himself.

“You know it’s a nerve-racking situation to an extent, but it’s also a very exciting time.  I’m happy to be where I’m at.  I’m happy to be a Florida Marlin.” 

While feelings of relief and excitement were Czyz’s two most prominent emotions on Tuesday, he also took time to look back on his Kansas career and reflect on how grateful he is to have spent his career in Lawrence.

“I’m really thankful for the whole coaching staff and support staff here at KU,” Czyz expressed.  “Not only have I grown as a baseball player, but I think that I’ve grown a lot as a person.  The University of Kansas is a fine establishment and they do a fine job with everything they put on here. I’m really excited to see where this program is going to be headed in the next five years or so.  It looks like it’s heading in the right direction and Coach Price is doing a great job, as well as the rest of the coaching staff.”

Czyz can take satisfaction in knowing that he played a huge role in getting Kansas baseball back on the right track and might have been as valuable to their NCAA tournament run as anyone. Even though KU baseball fans will be sad to have to say goodbye to one of the all-time greats at Kansas, Czyz will certainly continue to make Jayhawk Nation proud as he climbs the minor league ladder in hopes of one day making it to the big leagues.

OTHER KANSAS BASEBALL NOTES:

Three other Jayhawks were drafted on Tuesday.  Junior LHP Sean Land was selected in the 9th round by Minnesota.  Senior RF Gus Milner was selected in the 14th round by Philadelphia, and senior SS Ritchie Price was drafted by the New York Mets in the 18th round.  The draft continues Wednesday with rounds 19-50.


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