By Jake Eisenberg
Now less than a week until the beginning of the 2016 season, we roll out our final positional preview with an in-depth look at the Terrapins’ outfield. The outfield should remain a strong part of the Terps, both on defense and at the plate.
Mainstay left-fielder Tim Lewis (graduated) and centerfielder LaMonte Wade (drafted in the 9th Round by the Minnesota Twins)
Tim Lewis was the main left-fielder for the majority of the Terps’ season, starting 58 games. But, Lewis struggled at the plate, batting just .214. He gave way to then-freshman Kengo Kawahara in the final games of the regular season and the Big Ten Tournament. Kawahara likely would’ve played in the Regional and Super Regional, too, but hurt his hand in the Big Ten Semi-Final (more on Kawahara later).
Regardless, left field will be manned by junior transfer Madison Nickens in 2016. Nickens comes to Maryland after playing for two years at LSU-Eunice. He batted .289 with six home runs, 37 RBIs, 38 runs score and 38 stolen bases last season, helping the Bengals win the 2015 NJCAA Division II National Championship. The junior will sit atop the Terps lineup, adequately replacing LaMonte Wade.
LaMonte Wade is one of the biggest loses of the Terps’ offseason. Wade started 41 games, and would’ve started more if not for a hamate bone injury. He hit .335, collecting 53 hits in his 42 total gams, with four home runs and the highest on-base percentage on the team at .453. Wade also provided stellar defense at both first and in center field, making highlight-reel plays against UCLA in the Regional.
While Madison Nickens should make up for Wade’s offense, it’ll be Zach Jancarski playing patrolling center field to make up for the defense. Jancarski spent most of his time in 2015 as a pinch-runner, entering the game in such a role 16 times, scoring nine runs. The junior is arguably the fastest player on the team, and, with a sure glove, will provide excellent defense. He struggled last year at the plate, going just 2-17, but, if he can get on base in 2016, he has the potential to wreak havoc on opposing pitchers.
Kengo Kawahara could also find himself playing time in center field, or in left and right field as well. The sophomore was used mainly as a defensive upgrade in 2015 before climbing into bigger role toward the end of the season. This year, Kawahara will once again be a key late-inning defensive upgrade for head coach John Szefc, but should he produce more at the plate, he could see more playing time before too long.
Anthony Papio started all 66 games in right field for the Terps in 2015, and figures to do the same in 2016. The redshirt senior—and former walk-on— was a constant in the five-or six-hole last year, batting .262 with six home runs. If Papio can cut down on strikeouts—he led the team with 63 in 2015—he has the potential to one of the most valuable hitters in the lineup. Not only will he bring power to the middle of the order, but also a strong arm in right field.
Papio is also one of the strongest players on the team, winning the team’s offseason “Iron Terps” workout competition three seasons in a row. As a redshirt senior, he’ll be one of the de facto leaders for Maryland on and off the field.
For more on Papio, read his draft preview from last year.