Tayler Stiles, Taylor Bloom and Ryan Selmer. These three pitchers are integral pieces on a Maryland pitching staff that has helped the Terrapins to a 34-19 record this season.
But this trio is bound by more than the fact that they pitch for Maryland. All three hurlers were all coached, at some point, by Matthew Selmer, Ryan’s father. The elder Selmer, who is currently the head coach at Indian Creek High School, specializes in pitching mechanics, and began working with each of the three current Terps at different stages of their playing careers.
Senior left-hander Tayler Stiles joined Matthew Selmer’s 12U Kingston Royals team and was immediately the best power hitter and power pitcher on the team, according to Matthew Selmer.
“The coaching staff knew [Stiles] would make it to college ball without a doubt, but the question was whether he would make it because of the bat or the arm,” Matthew Selmer said. “As I started working with him, it became evident his arm would carry him.”
Stiles only played under Matthew Selmer through 16U, but he still seeks his former coach out for workouts and lessons every offseason, and the two still speak regularly to talk pitching.
“I can always look to him and ask for advice if I am struggling,” Stiles said. “He has basically taught me everything I know as far as the foundation of my mechanics and I probably would not be where I am without him.”
Stiles and Matthew Selmer worked on more than just pitching mechanics. The southpaw had a “bit of an attitude problem” when he first started playing for the Kingston Royals, which the coach addressed immediately.
“Stiles was always a fiery competitor and he hated it when things didn’t go his way,” his coach said. “I am one of those old-school guys when it comes to the discipline side. Whenever he pushed my buttons, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull him out of the games, but he responded well, learned how to control himself and is a better all-around baseball player for it.”
Taylor Bloom first started working with Matthew Selmer when he began his career at Riverdale Baptist High School, where Selmer was a coach. The right-hander was already “polished” because of his previous work with pitching instructors, according to Selmer, but still had room to improve.
“I videotaped Bloom’s delivery when we started working together to address some things he could clean up, but he was always a very mechanically sound pitcher,” he said. “Having him at Riverdale Baptist was a pleasure because we knew we could give him the ball and he’d get the job done.”
Bloom posted an 8-1 record with 86 strikeouts and a 0.89 ERA as a senior at Riverdale Baptist. He started in the bullpen when he got to Maryland before carving out a role as the team’s main Saturday starter in 2016, leading the team in ERA and walks per nine innings.
“I owe a lot of what I have been able to do [at Maryland] to Coach [Selmer],” Bloom said. “He has been with me every step of the way since high school, through years of summer ball, and now he’s still just a text or phone call away if I need help.”
After a breakout 2016, Bloom has struggled during parts of the 2017 season. The junior right-hander went through a slump at the end of March into early April, and Matthew Selmer was in touch with him to help guide him through it.
“I typically try to stay in the background during the season because these players have their own pitching coaches on their teams, but I couldn’t help it during Bloom’s recent struggles,” Matthew Selmer said. “I watched his game tape from his start against Nebraska for hours and reached out to him with some tips.”
Matthew Selmer maintains a close relationship with the players he has coached, but none closer than his relationship with his son Ryan.
Ryan’s older brother, Matthew Jr., was always “the more talented one,” according to their father. While Matthew Jr. was the star shortstop and pitcher, Ryan was essentially a utility player, filling in wherever he was needed.
The elder Selmer never prioritized Ryan over other players, saying that “he had to work for everything he earned.” Because of this Ryan Selmer took nothing for granted on the field and embraced his father’s tough love.
“Being the coach’s son was never easy,” Ryan Selmer said, “but I am grateful for everything he has done for me. Sometimes you see coaches just play their sons because they’re their sons, but he made me work for everything. I can’t tell you how many times he benched me, but I am a lot better for it.”
He was “slow and uncoordinated,” according to his father, but things quickly changed when he hit his growth spurt. He was a late bloomer and sprang up to 6-foot-8 during his high school years at Riverdale Baptist, eventually earning his spot on the mound.
“It was fun to watch Ryan develop from a father’s perspective and a coach’s perspective,” Matthew Selmer said. “He didn’t really have any schools after him until a scout came to watch someone else from that Riverdale team and said ‘why is there a 6-foot-8 pitcher throwing 90 [mph] that I didn’t know about?’ From that point, he ended up at Maryland and I couldn’t be more proud of the player he has become.”
What the elder Selmer praises most about his son, however, isn’t what he does on the mound. Ryan has the ability to be light-hearted and brighten the mood around the dugout while still being able to flip the switch when it is time to compete.
“Ryan never had an issue having fun in the dugout, but sometimes he got a little carried away,” Matthew Selmer said. “He eventually found that balance and it has been a joy to see his evolution as a teammate. I believe every dugout needs a Ryan Selmer or two to help maintain a positive attitude.”
Bloom, Stiles and Ryan Selmer have been fixtures on the Maryland pitching staff over the last three seasons. Ryan Selmer has been the team’s most reliable reliever, leading the team with seven saves this season. Bloom has been a staple in the weekend rotation for the past two years, pitching to a 3.34 ERA in 177.2 innings. Stiles has been able to fill in any role necessary, making appearances out of the bullpen and filling in as a spot starter. Matthew Selmer has enjoyed every bit of it.
“Sometimes people think it is the pitchers who are lucky to have knowledgeable pitching instructors, but it is the pitching instructors – like myself – who are lucky to come across talent,” he said. “I lucked into coaching three very talented pitchers, and it is great to see them all having success on the field as teammates at Maryland.”