by: Matt Present
One of the biggest challenges the Terps face this offseason is replacing the presence of second baseman Brandon Lowe. Lowe was drafted in the 3rd round, 87th overall, by the Tampa Bay Rays, following a 2015 campaign where he batted .331, with nine home runs, and 53 driven in. He was both a fixture at the top of the lineup, and a sure handed fielder on the right side of the diamond.
Replacing Lowe’s production is not something that will be done by one player; or even over the course of one season. However, incoming freshman Nick Dunn has strong potential to step in and produce at the second base position. In his senior year at Shikellamy High School, Dunn Batted .500 with seven round trippers, and 31 RBI, and was named the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
This summer playing in the Cal Ripken League for the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts, Dunn continued to impress. He hit .321 on the season, with a team high 17 RBI, in 112 at bats. He was named to the Cal Ripken League All-Star team, and led the league in batting average at the All-Star break.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Dunn is his ability to hit line drives, and put the ball in play. In his senior year of high school he did not strike out a single time, and this summer he struck out a mere six times. That’s just over one strike out per 20 at bats.
“I’ve always been big on putting the ball in play, hitting it hard, trying to work up the middle a lot,” said Dunn. “I take pride in hard line drives, hitting for average, situational hitting and all.”
And while Dunn will be playing with aluminum once again in College Park, his ability to square up the ball with wood this summer, means the power numbers should increase. He did not hit a home run this summer, but did have seven doubles and three triples, playing his home games in a pitchers’ friendly Blair Stadium.
“I always have high expectations for myself, I just wanted to make the adjustment to the veteran play,” said Dunn of playing in the Cal Ripken League. “Guys are throwing harder, spotting up every pitch that they throw, not just fastballs, so that’s what I focused on the most.”
The comparisons between Lowe and Dunn are not simply statistically driven. Both are second basemen who bat left and throw right. Both are similar in stature, standing 5’10 and a buck seventy, give or take. They both are soft-spoken with high expectations of themselves, and most importantly they both love winning.
“Honestly the success that they had two years ago really drew me in a lot,” said Dunn, of his decision to attend Maryland. “I feel like I’m in a good situation and have lot of good people around me.”
And while Dunn says his goal is just to be somewhere on the field as a freshman, if his progression continues it won’t be long before the Terps have another pro prospect playing second base.