Brian Shaffer – RHP
Ht: 6’5″ Wt: 200 Year: Jr. Bats/Throws: R/R
Hometown (HS): Pylesville, Md. (North Harford HS)
G: 15 (15 GS) IP: 103.1 ERA: 2.18 K/9: 8.9 BB/9: 1.6 H/9: 7.1
Arsenal: Fastball (low 90s), Changeup, Slider
Background: While Brian Shaffer’s first career appearance for Maryland as freshman resulted in a one-hit three-inning save against Western Kentucky in mid-February, it was in postseason play where the right-hander showed he had a bright future on the Maryland pitching staff. Shaffer set season-highs with seven strikeouts in seven innings pitched against fifth-seeded Illinois in the 2015 Big Ten Tournament. The Maryland win behind his strong start snapped a 27-game winning streak for Illinois, who later made it into the NCAA Super Regionals.
Shaffer backed up his promising freshman season in a weekend starting role with the Terps as a sophomore. Serving most of the year as the Sunday starter, the Pylesville, Maryland, native went 8-3 with a 2.60 ERA in a team-high 103.2 innings pitched. He struck out 75 batters while only walking 13. The right-hander continued to shine in postseason play, throwing a complete game, two-hit shutout to keep Maryland’s season alive in an elimination game against Indiana in last year’s Big Ten Tournament.
Coming into the 2017 season, Maryland knew it would have to replace its highly-decorated Friday night starter Mike Shawaryn, who decided to forgo his senior season when he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. Replacing an arm that holds Maryland’s career win and strikeout total is no small task, but Shaffer did so by pitching his way to a Big Ten Pitcher of the Year selection.
He led the conference in innings pitched this season while also ranking in the top-five in ERA (2.18), batting average against (.218) and strikeouts (102). No other Terp has cracked 70 strikeouts this season, and Shaffer’s strong performances on the mound allowed the Terps to win every single series opener at home.
Outlook: While Shaffer may not boast the flashy pitch arsenal that other big-name right-handers in the country do, he makes up for with incredible command. The junior struck out nearly nine batters per nine innings this season while averaging under two walks per nine innings. His fastball sits consistently in the low 90s, but has been clocked at 94 mph in late stages of different ballgames this season. Like his fastball, he throws his changeup for strikes, allowing him to change speeds throughout an at-bat. His solid slider has been able to confuse hitters, leading to his first 100 strikeout season in his career. Opponents are only hitting .218 against him this season, a mark that ranks fourth in the conference.
His dominant junior season hasn’t gone unnoticed. Baseball America ranked him as the 154th best draft prospect in the country, and D1Baseball.com’s Frankie Piliere believes he could be selected in between the third and fifth rounds. His ability to command all of his pitches while missing bats will make him a desirable early round pick. Shaffer and shortstop Kevin Smith easily have the two highest draft stocks on the Maryland roster, and if Shaffer is drafted early in the window he’s projected to be taken in, the Terps could have two players drafted in the top five rounds for the first time since 2015.