Summer Ball Update 6/26/2017: Dunn, Jancarski among Terps enjoying summer success

2017 summer ball is underway all throughout the country and many Terps are off to hot starts. Let’s check in and see how the Terrapins are doing.

Four Terps are in the Cape Cod League: two on the Brewster Whitecaps, one on the Falmouth Commodores and one on the reigning league champion Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. In Brewster, second baseman Nick Dunn is off to a hot start, hitting .296 with eight hits, the third most on the team. Dunn is looking to replicate his successful 2016 summer in which he was named to the Cape Cod League All-Star roster. His Whitecaps teammate, fellow Terp Marty Costes, is just 4-of-19 with six strikeouts, but his power stroke is still working. He picked up where he left off in Maryland, belting two early home runs on the Cape, including a walkoff homer Sunday against Bourne. Costes’ seven homers last summer led Maryland players in summer ball action.

Elsewhere in the Cape, sophomore left-handed pitcher Tyler Blohm has made a start and a relief appearance for Falmouth. In his summer debut, Blohm walked two and allowed a run in three innings of relief. In his lone start, the southpaw struck out seven in five innings, allowing two runs and earning the win. Hunter Parsons, the 2016 Cal Ripken League Pitcher of the Year, allowed four runs in his season debut for the Y-D Red Sox, a loss, but picked up the win in his second relief appearance after tossing a scoreless inning.

In the local Cal Ripken League, Zach Jancarski‘s bat remains hot with the Bethesda Big Train. The Terps leadoff hitter and center fielder is hitting .379 in eight games, including a leadoff home run in his first at-bat of the summer. Justin Morris‘ first hit of the summer was also a home run – the Terps catcher hit a grand slam on Father’s Day for Big Train, and is hitting .375 in eight contests.

Jancarski and Morris are joined in Bethesda by a pair of Terps arms: John Murphy and Zach Guth. Murphy, one of former head coach John Szefc’s favorite bullpen weapons, has a 3.00 ERA in three starts. With Brian Shaffer and Ryan Selmer departing for pro ball, Murphy is primed for an even larger role on the Maryland pitching staff next spring. Guth has allowed four earned runs in two innings of work.

Elsewhere in the Ripken League, the Baltimore Redbirds have benefited from incoming freshman Randy Bednar‘s bat and arm. The outfielder is hitting .290 with a team-high two home runs and pitched two scoreless innings in Baltimore’s 11-3 blowout over Rockville on June 18. However, it has not been an easy summer so far for AJ Lee, Maryland’s fourth-leading hitter in 2017. The Terps third baseman is hitting just .132 with 15 strikeouts in 12 games. On the mound, Mike Vasturia has allowed three earned runs in 3.1 innings while Jon Dignazio is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three relief appearances.

While Bednar has powered the Redbirds, another incoming freshman is leading the local Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. Infielder Tommy Gardiner is 8-for-23 (.348) in six games to open the season. Two other Terps have seen limited action thus far for the T-Bolts; Will Watson is 0-for-3 and Richie Schiekofer is 0-for-6, but they have each drawn a walk.

The only other Cal Ripken League teams with Maryland products are the Alexandria Aces and Gaithersburg Giants. Catcher Justin Vought has not appeared for the first place Aces while Nick Pantos has looked sharp out of the ‘pen for Gaithersburg. The right-hander has hurled nine innings over five appearances, allowing just one run with 11 strikeouts.

There are a few other Terps across the country over the summer. First baseman Kevin Biondic is hitting .200 with a homer and seven RBIs in 14 games with Canada’s Thunder Bay Border Cats of the Northwoods League. Danny Maynard, a member of Perfect Game League’s Amsterdam Mohawks, is hitting .172 in nine games. With the NECBL’s Newport Gulls, Cameron Enck has a 3.27 ERA in four appearances — all four earned runs he has allowed coming in his lone start.

Fecteau, Haines to join Szefc at Virginia Tech

Former Maryland Head Coach John Szefc will be bringing two of his Terps assistants with him as he takes over as the head coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies. Ryan Fecteau and Corey Haines are now listed on the Virginia Tech website as Assistant Coach and Director of Operations, respectively.

This is the second time in two seasons that Maryland will search for a new pitching coach, as Jim Belanger left the Terps staff last June to take a job at Kentucky.

Pitching Coach Ryan Fecteau visits the mound early in the second inning to confer with sophomore Hunter Parsons. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Fecteau, who replaced Belanger, departs Maryland after a one-year tenure as the team’s pitching coach. The New Hampshire native came to College Park in the summer of 2016 following a six-year stint at Bryant, where he molded a pitching staff that consistently dominated the Northeast Conference.

In four of his final five seasons with the Bulldogs, Fecteau’s staff boasted the NEC Pitcher of the Year. That trend continued when the coach moved on to Maryland as the Terps’ Brian Shaffer took home the top pitching award in the Big Ten in 2016.

This season, Fecteau led the Terps to a 3.98 ERA, and helped develop young arms such as Tyler Blohm and John Murphy into key pieces on the Maryland pitching staff. He will inherit a Virginia Tech pitching staff that ranked dead last in the ACC in ERA this spring with a 5.79 mark.

Unlike Fecteau, Haines was a long-term member of Maryland’s staff, serving the last five years as an assistant coach under Szefc and three previous years (2009-2011) as a student assistant and volunteer.

In his most recent stint in College Park, Haines focused on developing hitters and working with the team’s infielders. He worked with players such as Brandon Lowe (3rd round pick, Tampa Bay Rays, 2015 MLB Draft) and Kevin Smith (4th round, Toronto Blue Jays, 2017 MLB Draft), two of Maryland’s most decorated infielders in recent years.

Haines is an Elkton, Maryland, native and a Maryland alumnus, having graduated with a degree in kinesiology in 2011.

With the departure of Fecteau and Haines, new Maryland Head Coach Rob Vaughn now has two more spots to fill on the coaching staff.

Pro Terps Update: 6/20/17

Two former Terps have already signed with their pro teams after last week’s 2017 MLB Draft, while many minor league teams have hit the All-Star Break, with a few Maryland alumni involved.

One of those all stars is former Maryland 2B Brandon Lowe, who appeared in the Florida State League All-Star Game after a dominant first half with the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay Rays). Through 51 games this season, Lowe has posted a league-best 1.063 OPS and .433 OBP while launching nine home runs. The 2015 draftee hasn’t played since June 5 due to injury, but he was activated off the disabled list Monday.

While Lowe is slowly trending towards the major leagues, LHP Brett Cecil is still the only Terp in the big leagues. After nine seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Cecil signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason, but has struggled so far in the Cardinals bullpen. His 4.56 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 25.2 innings caused him to lose his spot as the set-up man, but Cecil has started to pull it together lately. The lefty has held opponents scoreless in 12 of his last 13 appearances. He was also able to make a mid-season number change after the Cardinals designated SS Jhonny Peralta for assignment.

With Cecil being the only big-leaguer, LHP Adam Kolarek is at the highest level in the minor leagues among former Terps. Kolarek has thrown 30.1 innings for the Triple-A Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays) and has posted a minuscule 1.48 ERA. He is not on the Rays’ 40-man roster, but the team only has one lefty in the big leagues, so Kolarek could be getting the call-up some time this summer.

Kolarek is the most advanced prospect, but RHP Mike Shawaryn is the top-rated former Terp. Shawaryn is now the No. 11 ranked prospect in the Boston Red Sox system and was promoted to the Advanced-A Salem Red Sox in early June. In 13 starts this season, the righty has pitched to a 4.62 ERA and struck out 89 batters while walking only 18 over 64.1 innings. He has had seven starts with at least eight strikeouts. His lofty ERA is the result of early struggles with Salem and his first start of the season with the Class-A Greenville Drive, when he gave up nine earned runs over two innings.

Another high-rising Terp is OF LaMonte Wade, who is with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins). In 64 games this season, Wade is slashing .276/.413/.379 with four home runs and was named to Southern League All-Star Team. His outfield defense continues to improve and the left-handed hitter is actually hitting lefties better so far this season, which bodes well for a potential call-up.

LHP Alex Robinson, who is also in the Twins organization, has had success as well this season with the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels. Robinson has posted a 3.60 ERA and struck out 38 batters over 30 innings this season, while he continues to pump the fastball close to 100 mph.

Three other former Maryland lefties are also trying to climb their way through the minor leagues. LHP Jake Drossner (Milwaukee Brewers), who made one appearance for the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattler and allowed one run over four innings back in April, has been assigned to the Rookie Helena Brewers, who start their season this week. LHP Zach Morris (Philadelphia Phillies) and LHP Jimmy Reed (St. Louis Cardinals) were both released by their organizations earlier this season.

Like Drossner, RHP Kevin Mooney (Washington Nationals) starts his season this week for the Short Season-A Auburn Doubledays. Mooney, who allowed opposing batters to hit only .209 off him last season, should start this year as the Doubledays’ closer, the same spot he held in the Maryland bullpen back in 2015.

RHP Jake Stinnett (Chicago Cubs) has not yet appeared in a game this season for the Single-A Tennessee Smokies as he rehabs an injury. However, the righty did make it into the Cubs’ Top-30 prospects list at the beginning of the season.

As far as 2017 draft picks go, RHP Ryan Selmer (New York Mets) and SS Kevin Smith (Toronto Blue Jays) are the only two Terps to have already signed their professional contracts. Meanwhile, RHP Jared Price (Miami Marlins) has not signed yet, but should start his pro career soon as the redshirt senior can not come back for another year at Maryland.

Rob Vaughn named eighth head coach in Maryland history

Rob Vaughn will take over as Maryland baseball’s head coach, the team announced Thursday. Vaughn, 29, has been on the Maryland coaching staff since 2012 and will replace John Szefc, who left the program June 9 to take a head coaching job at Virginia Tech. 

Rob Vaughn has been named Maryland head coach. He replaces John Szefc, who left June 9 to take the same position at Virginia Tech. (Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

“I’m thrilled to be able to continue what we started under coach Szefc the last couple years,” Vaughn said Thursday. “Maryland’s a special place… built around really good people and doing things the right way. That’s something that we’ve done over the last five years and something we’re going to continue to do.”

Vaughn, who was promoted to associate head coach last year, has spent most of his time in College Park as the Terps’ hitting coach. He has been instrumental in the program’s recent success, building an offensive unit that he calls “The Pack.” In The Pack, each player has a different role: run, drive in runs, or execute, or a combination of the three. This philosophy has proven successful; since Vaughn took over, the Terps have made three NCAA Tournaments, two super regionals and set a program record 42 wins in 2015.

Under his tutelage, Maryland has thrived offensively, eclipsing 300 runs in all but one year since 2013 and hitting at least 50 homers twice, in 2015 and 2017. Vaughn has helped the Terps utilize their speed on the basepaths as well. In his five years on staff, Maryland has finished second in the conference in stolen bases three times, including this season with 101 steals.

Vaughn has mentored several successful Terps’ hitters, including Brandon Lowe and Kevin Smith, two top-five round picks in the 2015 and 2017 MLB Drafts, respectively, who put up impressive numbers in their time at Maryland.

He inherits a coaching staff without pitching coach Ryan Fecteau and assistant Corey Haines, who both accompanied Szefc to Blacksburg. It is the second time in as many years that Maryland will conduct a search for a new pitching coach, but Vaughn isn’t worried, saying that he was determined to find coaches that share his vision for the program, even if it takes time to finalize the staff.

He also emphasized that he expects returning players to step into a larger role in the coming season.

“I want this to be a player-led team, not a coach-led team,” Vaughn said. “When you have guys like [Justin Morris] and [Zach Jancarski] and [AJ Lee], they know what’s expected and those are the guys that will take over.”

The Humble, Texas, native made it clear, however, that each player will have to work to earn their role on the team, and no preferential treatment will be given to veterans such as Morris, Jancarski or senior right-hander Taylor Bloom.

“This team is coming off a successful five-year stint, I don’t think anybody would argue that,” Vaughn said. “My biggest thing for [the team] to understand is the group assembled in the fall of 2017 hasn’t earned anything yet. That’s something we’ve been really good at is that there hasn’t been any complacency in this program; whether its in the classroom, whether its on the field, you get what you deserve.”

In addition to serving as the hitting coach and associate head coach, Vaughn has spearheaded Maryland’s recruiting efforts while on staff. In 2015, D1Baseball ranked the Terps’ recruiting class as the 17th best in the nation, the highest mark in program history. He has helped bring in players such as Marty Costes and Tyler Blohm, who received Freshman All-American honors in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

A native of Humble, Texas, Vaughn played four years at Kansas State, helping lead the Wildcats to their first ever NCAA Tournament berth, before being drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 30th round of the MLB Draft in 2009. He spent parts of two seasons in the White Sox organization before returning to Kansas State in 2010 as an assistant coach, where he worked on a coaching staff with Szefc. Vaughn came to College Park in 2012 shortly after Szefc was hired as head coach.

Six current Terps, three signees selected in 2017 MLB Draft

Kevin Smith and Brian Shaffer highlighted a list of nine Terps, three of whom are incoming freshmen, who were taken in the 2017 MLB Draft this week.

Kevin Smith was drafted in the 4th round by the Toronto Blue Jays (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Smith, who received preseason All-American honors in January, was taken by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 4th round, 129th overall. The shortstop hit .268 with a team-best 13 homers and 48 RBIs this season, and was named to the Big Ten Tournament All-Tournament team. A native of East Greenbush, New York, Smith is the highest draft pick out of Maryland since the Tampa Bay Rays took Brandon Lowe in the 3rd round in 2015.

Like Smith, Shaffer received numerous accolades this season, including Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and Third Team All-American, after going 7-4 with a 2.66 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 108.1 innings. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 6th round, 172nd overall, giving the Terps two top-2oo picks for the second time in three years.

With just one season on the mound under his belt, Jamal Wade was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 17th round. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

After Smith and Shaffer went on day two of the draft Tuesday, right-hander Jamal Wade (17th round, 513th overall, Seattle Mariners) was the first to go on day three. Wade spent the first two seasons of his college career as a power-hitting outfielder and DH, but after seeing time on the mound last summer, transitioned into a flame-throwing bullpen arm. The Owings Mills, Maryland, native touched the mid-90s with his fastball this season, which he paired with a devastating curveball that gave him 33 strikeouts in 19.2 innings.

Outfielder Marty Costes, who earned First Team All-Big Ten honors this spring and Freshman All-American honors a year ago, was taken in the 25th round, 751st overall, by the Houston Astros. A draft-eligibile sophomore, Costes hit .322 with 46 RBIs and tied with Smith for the team-lead in home runs (13). Over two seasons in College Park, he slashed .296/.400/.517 with 22 homers and 83 RBIs.

A mainstay in the Terps’ bullpen for three seasons, Ryan Selmer went to the New York Mets in the 31st round.
(Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Ryan Selmer, the 6-foot-8 right-hander who served as the Terps’ closer this season, went in the 31st round, 937th overall, to the New York Mets. While he doesn’t possess the strikeout stuff that Wade does, Selmer anchored himself as one of the most reliable arms in the Maryland bullpen over his three seasons as a Terp. His 85 appearances (81 in relief) over the past three years lead the Terps in that span, and the Beltsville, Maryland, native will go into the pro ranks with a 3.07 college ERA to his name.

Another right-handed bullpen arm, Jared Price, was selected late in the draft, going to the Miami Marlins in the 37th round, 1109th overall. Price, a fifth-year senior, sits in the mid-90s on the radar gun, and after posting a 3.04 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 23.2 innings this season, proved he can be a valuable late-inning asset.

In addition to the six Terps selected, three Maryland signees who are scheduled to arrive on campus in the fall heard their name called on Wednesday. Randy Bednar, an outfielder and left-handed pitcher out of the Landon School (Bethesda, Md.) was selected in the 27th round, 800th overall, by the Atlanta Braves. Bednar went 27-for-49 (.551) at the plate this spring while striking out 32 in 19 innings on the mound. Justin Vought, a catcher from Wyoming Valley West High School (Plymouth, Pa.), was taken by the 31st round, 930th overall, by the Kansas City Royals. The incoming freshman hit .474 in 43 at bats as a senior this spring. Right-hander Mark DiLuia (Marian Catholic, Chicago Heights, Ill.) was taken in the 38th round, 1154th overall, by the Texas Rangers.

Jared Price drafted in 37th round by Miami Marlins

Maryland reliever Jared Price was drafted in the 37th round (1109th overall) of the 2017 MLB Draft Wednesday. It is the second time Price has been drafted, as he was drafted out of high school in 2012 by the New York Mets (33rd round).

Red shirt senior Jared Price pitches for Team Martir 10/23/16 Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network

Price, a fifth-year senior, has had an up-and-down career in College Park, but finished on a high note with his best collegiate season in 2017. He struggled in his first three years as a Terp, pitching to an ERA around six in each of those three seasons. Looking to end his career strong, Price instead missed most of his senior season in 2016 with an injury, making just two appearances.

He received an extra year of eligibility to pitch in 2017 and made the most of it, becoming an integral part of the Terps’ bullpen. He threw 23.2 innings, more than he had in 2015 and 2016 combined, and turned in a career-best 3.04 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Price, who features a mid-90s fastball, struck out 27 batters in 23.2 frames while walking just nine.

His best outing as a Terp was one of his last: a 4.2 inning outing against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament in which he picked up the win and helped Maryland solidify its NCAA Tournament resume.

Before the draft, MBN’s Noah Gross broke down Price’s draft prospects.

Ryan Selmer drafted in 31st round by New York Mets

Right-hander Ryan Selmer, the Terps closer in 2017, was selected in the 31st round (937th overall) by the New York Mets in the MLB Draft, Wednesday.

Selmer departs College Park after having been a mainstay in the Maryland bullpen for three seasons. As a freshman in 2015, he tied a program record for most appearances in a season, working in 31 games (27 relief appearances and four starts) while compiling a 2.18 ERA.

Redshirt Junior Ryan Selmer pitches for the Terps. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 4/4/2017

Over the next two seasons, the 6-foot-8 right-hander took the mound 54 more times for Maryland, more than anyone else on the team over that time. As a junior in 2017, Selmer pitched 41.1 innings at the back end of the Terps bullpen, registering eight saves and a 3.05 ERA. Although he was nominally the closer, he had eight appearances in which he pitched multiple innings, including two games that he went at least four frames.

Arguably the Beltsville native’s best game of the season came on one of the biggest stages, as Selmer entered the Big Ten Tournament semifinal against Northwestern in the second inning and proceeded to hurl 5.2 innings of one-run ball against the Wildcats, while striking out three and giving up just four hits. The Terps lost the game 6-5, but through no fault of Selmer’s, who kept Maryland in the game long enough to mount an electrifying comeback from 6-0 deficit.

Selmer is the fifth Terp to be taken in this year’s draft and the third pitcher.