Zeferjahn Wraps Up Successful Career, Awaits MLB Draft Fate

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Seaman standout Ryan Zeferjahn wrapped up his high school athletic career last week .

The Kansas baseball signee and Co-City Basketball Player of the Year will now await his fate in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft held June 9-11. Zeferjahn he is ranked as the 142nd-best prospect in the latest list published by Baseball America, which puts in the fifth round.

“It’s just awesome knowing that I have two opportunities that either way it’s going to work out really well for me either starting my career with professional baseball or going to KU,” Zeferjahn said.

Zeferjahn, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-handed pitcher with a fastball in the 91-95 mph range, played in front of as many as 25 scouts every game and has met representatives with nearly every MLB club. He went 6-2 with a 1.70 ERA as a senior with 78 strikeouts in 53 innings. He also hit over .350 with four home runs and 30 RBIs.

“I just played like they were just fans there watching,” Zeferjahn said of the scouts. “I didn’t really let it affect me at all. I just went out there and pitched.”Baseball America stated Zeferjahn is: “Gifted with an explosive mid-90s fastball and a lanky frame, the development of Zeferjahn’s offspeed stuff needs to progress.”Zeferjahn plans to watch the draft at his home with friends and family in attendance. The first and second rounds will be on June 9, rounds 3-10 on June 10, and rounds 11-40 on June 11. He has until July 15 to sign a pro contract.

The Vikings’ quest for an eighth state title came up short with a 3-1 loss to Riley Pint (Baseball America’s top high school prospect in the country) and St. Thomas Aquinas in the 5A state quarterfinals finishing 18-5.  It was the Vikings’ 12th consecutive state tournament appearance.

“This year we came in knowing we lost a couple key parts and we knew we needed some kids to step up and fill those roles and it kind of started a little rough at the beginning of the season,” Zeferjahn said. “As we went on kids started picking up their roles and we just had great chemistry and played like a team.”

Being a part of the Seaman program, which has seven state titles since 2000, is something that helped Zeferjahn in his development.

“Being in that program has helped me a ton and being around coach (Steve) Bushnell for four years with him teaching me how to play the game has helped me the last four years develop into the player that I am now,” Zeferjahn said.

Zeferjahn also helped lead Seaman to a successful season on the basketball court with a 15-7 record, their best season in 10 years. He earned Co-City Player of the Year honors averaging 15.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists.  He also was named All-State Class 5A Second Team.  He scored a career-high 41 points in a win at Topeka High on Feb. 9.

“This year was probably my best year of basketball ever just playing with my friends and going out there and having fun at practice every day and in games knowing that we’re just out there having fun,” Zeferjahn said. “Most of us play it as a second sport and then as we come together as a team we just had great chemistry. It was one of the best years in the history of basketball at our school so it was kind of cool with that and I just stepped up as a team leader to help those younger guys develop into the role that I had this year for next year hopefully.”

The experiences he had playing high school sports is something he will take with him wherever he goes next.

“It’s just great playing high school sports and throughout the four years they get better and better every year you play them and more teams you play on,” Zeferjahn said.


MLB.com Prospect Watch (Ranked 97th overall)

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45 (Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools – 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.)
After sitting in the mid-80s with his fastball as a sophomore, Zeferjahn caught scouts’ attention by touching the mid-90s last spring at Seaman High (Topeka, Kan.). He continued to light up radar guns on the showcase circuit during the summer and fall, cementing his status as part of Kansas’ best high school talent crop ever. The Sunflower State never has had more than one player selected in the first rounds in a Draft, but could have four in the top two or three rounds this year in pitchers Riley Pint, Joey Wentz and Zeferjahn plus shortstop Nonie Williams.

Despite spending the winter starring in basketball (he averaged 16 points per game and earned second-team all-state recognition) rather than focusing on preparing for baseball, Zeferjahn hit 95 mph in his first start as well as his last, a playoff loss to the Draft’s top-rated right-hander, Riley Pint. Zeferjahn bore a heavy workload and pitched at 88-90 mph with some running life for most of this spring. With his projection and athleticism, the Kansas recruit could throw consistently in the mid-90s one day, though that may require some adjustments to his mechanics.

Zeferjahn has a short arm action that causes him to get under his pitches and flatten them out. He’ll show some power and shape with his slurvy breaking ball, which could become a solid or perhaps better slider with more consistency. While he doesn’t have much of a changeup yet and requires more overall polish, his arm strength and big, athletic frame give him a high ceiling.

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Owner of TopekaHoops who has over 10 years of experience as a sports journalist covering high school, college, and professional basketball and other sports. E-mail me at: topekahoops@gmail.com

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