Kash and Z. They almost sound like a superhero duo.
The East Texas Pump Jacks certainly hope so, as the team announced today the signing of Kash Kalkowski from the University of Nebraska and the University of Missouri's Rob Zastryzny. Kalkowski, a redshirt sophomore outfielder, will be expected to provide some punch in the heart of the order, while Zastryzny, a true freshman, will help anchor the rotation.
Kalkowski’s season started with a bang and has only gotten better since. In his first start of the spring, on February 19 against Washington, Kalkowski connected for a grand slam, propelling the Cornhuskers to a 10-1 victory. The slam was his first collegiate hit in just his fifth at-bat since coming to Lincoln.
The former Tampa Bay Rays draft choice has continued to hit ever since. He has had a hit in 15 of 18 starts and authored a 12-game hitting streak during the first month of the season. His .348 average tops the Huskers and ranks just outside the top 15 in the Big 12, while his four home runs are tied for second in the conference. Kalkowski’s .621 slugging percentage, also a team best, places him fourth in the Big 12. He is second on Nebraska with 21 RBI, one behind the team leader, who has 30 more at-bats than Kalkowski.
Despite opening the season as a platoon player, Kalkowski is now entrenched as the Cornhuskers cleanup hitter. He moved into the cleanup spot a week ago, after which he has batted .318 with two triples and two home runs. He’s also driven in nine runs and scored six more in the last six games.
Kalkowski’s performance is all the more impressive considering he lost his entire 2010 season to shoulder surgery, and he had only three hitless at-bats in his freshman campaign. Used primarily on the mound in 2009, Kalkowski appeared in 19 games and started twice, posting a 1-2 record while striking out 32 in 34.1 innings. He went on to play for the La Crosse Loggers in the Northwoods League that summer and showed promise, going 1-1 with a 0.79 ERA in four outings before going down with a torn labrum.
The Nebraska native became one of the state’s most heralded prospects as a two-way threat for Grand Island High School. He was named the Nebraska Player of the Year by both Gatorade and Louisville Slugger as a senior, when he was also tabbed a Louisville Slugger pre- and post-season All-American. He went 6-1 with three saves and a 1.51 ERA on the mound, striking out 65 in 55.2 innings pitched. At shortstop, he batted .460 with 32 RBI, 34 runs, and 27 steals to solidify his place on multiple all-state teams. Despite his commitment to the University of Nebraska, Tampa Bay took a flyer and selected Kalkowski in the 49th round of the 2008 draft.
Interestingly, as impressive as numbers were during his senior year, they were hardly Kalkowski’s most dominant showing. As a junior, he went 6-2 with a sparkling 0.81 ERA, and he led the state with a .506 batting average while driving in 34 runs. He started his string of three straight all-state selections by hitting .405 as a sophomore, notching five wins and posting a 0.53 ERA.
Following his senior campaign and the 2008 MLB draft, Kalkowski starred in American Legion ball, going 9-1 with a 1.15 ERA and two no-hitters. He added a .506 average, ten homers, 63 RBI, 66 runs, and 17 steals over that summer.
Like Kalkowski, Zastryzny has evolved into one of his team’s most important players. Zastryzny is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts, striking out 25 and walking just eight. He leads the Tigers in strikeouts and innings pitched, and he’s tied for the team lead in wins and starts. He is second on the team, and first among starters, in ERA.
After just three starts, Zastryzny was impressive enough to take over the role of Missouri’s Friday starter, a slot normally reserved for a team’s top pitcher. College Baseball Daily recently named him one of the top “impact freshmen” in the Big 12.
After an outstanding prep career, the Tigers expected Zastryzny would become the squad’s top pitcher – though perhaps not this fast. One of the top high school pitchers in the state of Texas in 2010, he was named an All-American by both ESPN RISE Magazine and MaxPreps. He was nearly perfect in his senior season for Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, posting a 16-1 record and 0.40 ERA. Zastryzny was also one of the top strikeout pitchers in the country, registering 190 punch-outs in only 104 innings. He added 11 shutouts and 15 complete games on his way to being named Corpus Christi Caller-Times South Texas Pitcher of the Year.
For good measure, Zastryzny was also dangerous at the plate, batting .405 with nine homers, 46 runs, and 47 RBI as a senior. He helped lead Calallen to the state championship game, and the school finished the season #14 in the ESPN RISE Fab 50 national high school rankings.
Zastryzny’s senior success wasn’t unprecedented, however. He went 9-4 with a 2.25 ERA as a junior, striking out 98 in 71 innings to earn all-district and all-South Texas honors. He added his first career perfect game in the playoffs, striking out nine in five innings as the Wildcats run-ruled a bi-district clincher.
A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Zastryzny helped lead Calallen to a state title in 2008 as a sophomore.
Kalkowski and Zastryzny join the McNeese State trio of Lee Orr, Seth Granger and Jaden Dillon on the 2011 Pump Jacks roster.
The Jacks open the 2011 season on June 1 in Victoria. The team returns to East Texas for the home opener on Monday, June 6, in another championship rematch against the Generals. The complete 60-game schedule is available here.
Pump Jacks season tickets are available now, and at new, lower prices! The Jacks have cut Lower Box seat season tickets to $199 – which includes in-your-seat wait service – and just $150 for Upper Box seats. Grandstand season tickets are available for the low price of $105 for adults and $85 for children and seniors. For more information on season tickets, please click here.
To follow all the news and developments as the Jacks prepare for the 2011 season, visit the Pump Jacks official web site at www.pumpjacksbaseball.com.